Although they haven't been at full strength in more than a month, the Utah Jazz still own a commanding lead in the Northwest Division.

The Jazz hope to have guard Deron Williams back in the lineup Wednesday when they open a three-game road trip against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Utah (37-19) leads second-place Denver by 9 1/2 games in the Northwest Division, despite the fact it hasn't been able to use its normal starting lineup since Jan. 27. Despite injuries to Williams, All-Star Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer in the past month, the Jazz have managed to go 8-3 in their last 11 games.

They had Okur and Kirilenko back for Monday's 102-94 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, but Williams missed his second game since the All-Star break with a strained groin.

Williams, a top contender for the league's most improved player award, got hurt in the rookie challenge game during All-Star weekend and is listed as day-to-day.

Okur returned after missing two games with back spasms to score nine points and grab six rebounds against the Lakers, while Kirilenko had 12 points and five rebounds after sitting one game with a left knee contusion.

Starting point guard Derek Fisher had a season-high 23 points on Monday, the third time in four games he reached a new season high.

It wasn't enough to defeat the Lakers, though, as Utah missed eight of its final 12 shots after tying the score at 82 with 4:42 remaining.

"We were stagnant. We stopped running our plays,'' said Matt Harpring, who had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists. "We just got bogged down and we didn't make open shots.''

Boozer finished with 13 points and nine rebounds against Los Angeles, and is averaging 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in three games back in the lineup after missing the previous eight with a fractured left fibula.

Two games before his injury, Boozer had a career-high 39 points and 15 rebounds in Utah's 132-130 overtime loss to Memphis (15-43) on Jan. 24.

Okur had 27 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range and 11 rebounds in that game, and had 20 points and nine boards in Utah's 100-97 win over the Grizzlies at FedEx Forum on Dec. 23.

The Grizzlies have won seven of their last nine games against the Jazz, and are 7-3 against them all-time in Memphis.

The Grizzlies lost to Denver 111-107 on Monday, though, once again failing to win consecutive games for the first time all season.

"We just want to take it one game at a time and hope it escalates into a few in a row," said Memphis forward Mike Miller, who scored 21 points.

Pau Gasol also had 21 points Monday, while rookie guard Rudy Gay added 18. Gay is averaging 17.6 points in nine games since being named a starter - well above his 10.1 season average - and has scored in double figures in each of those contests.

"It's just me getting comfortable," Gay said. "It's time for me to start getting comfortable and start putting up some numbers."


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