Jazz explode in third quarter
There won't be any dunking out of Deron Williams for a while at least, not with his return from a sprained left ankle still in its infancy. But apparently there won't be a shortage of highlight plays if the third quarter of Friday night's game was any indication.
To punctuate one of the most exceptional quarters in Jazz history, Williams found himself alone on the fast break and opted to scoop a pass off the backboard to C.J. Miles for a two-handed dunk rather than settle for a pedestrian layup.
"When I threw it to him, he told me to come on and that's when I figured he was going to do it," Miles said. "I think he'd rather have an assist and get everybody hyped up than do that anyway."
The Jazz were on their way to a 44-point quarter, breaking open a tied game at halftime, and a 120-94 rout of the Sacramento Kings. Williams bobbed his head down court and left for good less than a minute later with 13 points and 15 assists.
Williams now has totaled 30 assists in his first two games back from the ankle injury. That he played only 27 minutes has to increase his chances (which he put at 50-50) of playing tonight against New Jersey in the second of a rare set of back-to-back home games.
"I think it definitely helps," said Williams, who added that the ankle was a little sore afterward. "I've just got to see how it feels in the morning, really see how it feels before the game."
The Jazz (11-6) have scored 44 points in a quarter with even less frequency than they have played back-to-back home games, which last happened in February 2001.
It was the most points the Jazz have scored since a 46-point second quarter against Sacramento in a Jan. 29, 1992 game. The franchise record came in a 50-point first quarter against Denver on April 10, 1982.
The Jazz, who went into halftime tied 50-50, made 16 of 19 shots in the quarter and came up with six steals. They won the quarter 44-17, with Miles scoring 16 of his 18 points for the game in the third and Williams delivering nine assists.
None was more spectacular than the alley-oop Williams served up off the backboard. Of course, though, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan never has been much for dunk contests.
"We have thrown more alley-oops than I've seen in my career," Sloan said. "John Stockton never threw an alley-oop in his career. How many have we thrown away trying to make those plays? We've had some of them go right, but when they go awry, what does it look like?
"I've always been conservative in that area. We got excited after that play and we were so excited, we came back and gave them a three. You'd almost just rather make the layup so you have more energy to get back down to the other end and guard them on a three. I guess I'm crazy. It's a lot about show."
Williams maintained that he liked the play and "that's all that matters."
The Jazz scored the first 13 points of the third quarter. Even when Williams couldn't hit Paul Millsap with a pass in the lane, the ball squirted out to Miles for a three-pointer. "That's when I figured I'm going to get rolling," Miles said.
Williams fired a pass to Ronnie Brewer for a dunk and slid the ball to Millsap off the pick-and-roll for another slam. Even after Williams left with 2:05 to play in the quarter, Ronnie Price and Miles closed the third by turning two steals into a dunk and layup.
The Jazz had eight players score in double figures, led by Mehmet Okur (20 points, 12 rebounds), who had his fourth consecutive 20-point game. Okur has missed only four shots in two games with Williams back, going 15 of 19 (78.9 percent).
Those 30 assists by Williams also made an impression on Miles: "That just shows you his basketball IQ is as high as can be, coming in and being able to jump into the rhythm of the guys that's been playing and being able to keep the momentum."
The Kings lost their fifth consecutive game, with coach Reggie Theus saying of the third quarter: "The one thing that I would have liked to see is one of our guys get really angry about it. Not hurt anybody or anything like that, but be angry about what was happening on the floor."
* IN SHORT: The Jazz break open a tie game at halftime with a 44-point third quarter, their highest scoring quarter in 16 years.
* KEY MOMENT: Deron Williams underhands the ball off the backboard to C.J. Miles for an alley-oop dunk to make it 82-62 in the third.
* KEY STAT: The Jazz win the third quarter 44-17, with Williams delivering nine of his 15 assists and Miles scoring 16.