Jazz Look To Continue Hot Start, Visit Sonics
Posted Nov 17 2006 1:22PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
The Utah Jazz are doing their best to prove their early-season run is for real, but to keep it up Friday they'll have to beat a team they've had little success against recently.
The Jazz look to improve their league-best record and avoid their fourth straight loss to the Seattle SuperSonics when two of the league's highest-scoring offenses meet at KeyArena.
Utah has won seven of its first eight games - its best start since going 9-1 to open the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. The Jazz rattled off four straight wins to open this season before falling 96-89 to the New Jersey Nets on Nov. 8.
They have bounced back with three consecutive victories, including a 112-90 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, and will go for their second four-game winning streak of the season on Friday.
``We're running. We're outscoring teams. We're getting stops when we need them,'' said point guard Deron Williams, who had 16 points and seven assists Tuesday. ``We're doing all the right things. It's not like it's just a fluke.''
Williams is proving himself in his second year in the league, averaging 16.9 points and a team-high 8.5 assists. Carlos Boozer has been another key to Utah's success, recording 21.1 points and 12.6 rebounds per game. He had 16 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists against the Clippers.
Mehmet Okur scored a season-high 27 points in Tuesday's victory to boost his season average to 17.5. Those types of offensive performances have helped the Jazz average 105.6 points so far this season and surpass 100 points in all seven wins.
They've struggled lately against the Sonics, however, averaging just 89.5 points in four meetings last season - three of them losses. Seattle averaged 104.8 points in those games and has won seven of its last nine matchups with the Jazz overall.
The Sonics (4-5) are averaging 103.3 points per game in 2006-07, but are trying to rebound from a 96-90 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Seattle shot just 41.7 percent (35-for-84) from the field, including a season-low 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from beyond the arc
``We just weren't that good on offense,'' Sonics coach Bob Hill said after his team has its three-game winning streak snapped. ``We were impatient and made some bonehead decisions.''
Rashard Lewis was a bright spot, recording 25 points and 15 rebounds, while Ray Allen (22 points) and Luke Ridnour (20) also scored in double figures. Allen, who leads Seattle with 25.1 points per game this season, has averaged 24.8 points in 24 career games against the Jazz - his fourth-best mark against any opponent.
Kirilenko, the team leader with 18 blocks this season, is out indefinitely after sustaining the injury in a win over the Bucks on Saturday. He was replaced by in the starting lineup Tuesday by rookie Ronnie Brewer, who scored 12 points.
``The door is opened up for you and if you want to play, that's when you step out there and say 'OK, I'm ready to go,''' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
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