NBA: Utah's Mo Williams returns to early-season form
Mo Williams grabbed his bag containing a sweat-soaked Utah Jazz uniform. With his deft touch, he blindly flicked it towards the laundry basket in the middle of the locker room before talking to reporters.
Utah's point guard came up short. It was one of the only shots he missed Monday night.
In a 112-102 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at EnergySolutions Arena the fifth consecutive victory for the Jazz Mo Williams looked like the Mo Williams we all remember from early in the season.
Clearly, the injured wrist is no longer a concern. Posting 20 points and nine assists to go along with one turnover tends to make fans sleep a lot better at night. Hitting six 3-pointers in seven attempts is also comforting. Cramming these statistics in 29 minutes makes it even better.
"I think I'm finding my stride a little bit," Williams said. "I'm not thinking about what kind of player I'm going to be. I'm letting the defense come out and play me, and I'm taking what they give me."
More than the points, or the assists, is the fact that Williams has seized control of the Jazz offense and injected his fearless personality into a team needing a bit of fearlessness.
Williams is pushing the ball up the floor without mercy. He's making shots at important times. His flurry from beyond the arc at the end of the third quarter essentially won the game for the Jazz.
His teammates see this. They are running with him. Gordon Hayward always a greyhound on the fastbreak is finding easy points in transition. But how about Al Jefferson? The big man almost never runs the floor. On Monday night he did, and Williams found him with a behind-the-back bounce pass from a dunk.
Two nights after Randy Foye tied the team record for 3-pointers made in a game, Williams offered a stiff challenge. Had he actually been needed to play minutes down the stretch, Foye's mark may have gone down in flames with a short shelf life.
"He's trying to break the record, man," Foye said with a smirk. "I just tied it the other day. He needs to relax."
Williams has been aggressive in the last few games. He's gotten his own offense while getting others involved. You want a reason for Utah's newfound winning streak? Williams is as good an explanation as any.
"You can tell Mo's back in his groove and is playing the way he wants to play," Jefferson said. "He's scoring, getting people involved and playing good defense. Everybody is jumping on his bandwagon."
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Mo Williams' night
• Goes 6-for-7 from 3-point range
• Scores 20 points and passed for nine assists
• Plays 29 minutes