Williams & Utah Jazz Stop Lakers
Deron Williams normally saves his best for the playoffs. But in the last few weeks, he has shown the NBA that he can turn it on anytime he wants.
The Utah Jazz completed a memorable East Coast road trip sweep when they knocked off Miami, Orlando, and Atlanta in consecutive games. They just added the a Lakers scalp to their war chest after a come-from-behind victory in Utah last night. The Jazz, led by 29 points from All-Star guard Deron Williams, trailed most of the game, but made big shots down the stretch to pull out a 102-96 victory.
Earl Watson and Ronnie Price added some punch from the bench when it was clear that the starters were not bringing the energy early. Andre Kirilenko, Al Jefferson, and Paul Millsap also put up good performances. And the Jazz stayed cool in the fourth quarter despite a 14-point explosion from Kobe Bryant. Good defense by Kirilenko and a 3 by Deron Williams helped hold off a 31 point performance by Kobe and a 21 point, 11 rebound night for Pau Gasol.
It was more than just a win for the Jazz. The win helped take the sting out of the year-ending series loss the Jazz suffered against the Lakers and put Utah back on the championship map. This after Utah lost Boozer, Wesley Matthews, Ronnie Brewer, and Kyle Korver to free agency. The development of Paul Millsap and the defensive presence of Al Jefferson has created a new look Jazz team.
As we have seen in recent weeks, no lead is safe against the Utah Jazz and it all starts with the play of Deron Williams. Leading the Jazz in scoring and assists, the offense simply runs through him. Jerry Sloan has grown more comfortable letting Deron run the show and you can see the maturation of the point guard over the last two years. Certainly he belongs in any talk about the league’s best point guards. Deron Williams may also be starting to generate some MVP talk.
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