Jazz look sharp, rough up Blazers
Portland, Ore. » With opening night now just a week away against Denver, the Jazz could be forgiven for counting down the minutes given the way they pounded the Portland Trail Blazers 108-97 Tuesday at the Rose Garden.
The Jazz hadn't beaten the Blazers on their home court the last three seasons, but rang up 59 points on 60.6 percent shooting in the first half and led by 24 at the end of three quarters of what amounted to a preseason demolition.
Granted, the Blazers played without LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden, but Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer stood out for the Jazz while Deron Williams was spectacular with 27 points in just 30 minutes.
"Every time I tried to pass, I was getting a turnover, so I didn't want any more turnovers," said Williams, who had four at halftime. "They were kind of playing me to go to the basket, and once I figured that out, I thought I could get to the basket pretty much every time."
Even if it was the preseason, the victory was significant for the Jazz, coming in their third game in four nights on the road. They also won in the second game of a back-to-back set Sunday against Charlotte in Los Angeles.
"The majority of the game was great," Williams said. "I thought that first half of basketball was some of the best basketball we've played.
"That's the things we've got to have. Defensively, that's the things we're talking about doing. That's the toughness we've got to have on the road every night."
The Blazers made it 95-85 in the last three minutes but Portland's Jerryd Bayless missed an open jumper with 2:50 left and Ronald Dupree nailed a 22-footer for the Jazz, who will close the preseason Friday at Sacramento.
Williams scored 17 points in the first half, including 10 straight in the second quarter as the Jazz opened a 20-point lead. During the stretch, Williams hit a three-pointer against a zone defense, drove for a three-point play and ran for a layup on the break.
Although Portland closed within 12 in the third quarter, Williams helped the Jazz restore order. He hit two free throws after being fouled on a three-pointer and drove for a layup after losing the ball and retrieving it with 8 on the shot clock.
"Offensively, that boy gets it, man," Boozer said. "He's got a lot of stuff with him and we saw a little bit of everything tonight."
Brewer opened the game by swiping a Juwan Howard pass and heading the other way for a layup. He capped the first half by burying a three-pointer with 8.7 seconds left to give the Jazz a 59-40 cushion.
He finished with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting while Boozer added 16 points and seven rebounds, capping a 10-point third quarter with a jumper, layup and tip-in.
The Jazz's last three games, Boozer has averaged 19.3 points on 72.2 percent shooting.
Although Jazz coach Jerry Sloan would have started him Tuesday, Kyle Korver missed his sixth preseason game with an inflamed left knee.
Ronnie Price (strained left hamstring) also sat out, though Mehmet Okur did return from a sore back.
In short » The Jazz crush Portland in their second-to-last preseason game, leading by 24 at the end of three quarters.
Key moment » Ronnie Brewer's three-pointer with 8.7 seconds left sends the Jazz into halftime with a 59-40 lead.
Key stat » Mehmet Okur (1-for-6) and Paul Millsap (0-for-6) combined to go 1-for-12 with eight points.