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Utah Jazz: Williams’ shot count is an indicator of Utah’s offensive success

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Utah Jazz's Marvin Williams, right, shoots as Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) defends during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

By AARON FALK

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 09 2014 12:10PM
Updated Feb 9, 2014 11:27PM

Marvin Williams walked out of the Jazz locker room Saturday, looked down at the box score in his hands, and saw that for a second straight game, he had launched eight 3-pointers.

"I’ve never done that before," he said.

But when it comes to the life or death of the Utah Jazz’s offense, the 27-year-old Williams might be the canary in the coal mine.

"If you want to know how well we’re moving the ball, look at how many shots Marvin has," said forward Richard Jefferson. "That’s it. There’s no other formula."

Over the last three games, Williams is averaging 22.3 points on 15 shots, and he’s connecting on nearly 58 percent of his 3s.

It doesn’t exactly translate to wins; Utah is 1-2 in that stretch.

But Friday night in Dallas helps illustrate Jefferson’s point.

Williams opened up the game by taking seven first-quarter shots, hitting five of them. (His two misses were a layup and a subsequent attempt at a tip-in.) By halftime, he had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

But in the second half, the canary died. As Dallas went to a zone defense and the Jazz offense stagnated, Williams managed only two more shots and missed both.

"If Marvin is getting a lot of shots, that’s because every stretch-four in this league should get open shots," Jefferson said. "That’s why [San Antonio’s] Matt Bonner is still playing in this league. That’s why [Phoenix’s] Channing Frye plays in this league. That’s why [Miami’s] Chris Bosh gets open shots."

Williams’ move to the four has helped his offense this year. He’s back to averaging double-digits in scoring (10.3 ppg) after only averaging 7.2 points a game last year. His field-goal percentage is up, and he’s averaging better than 40 percent from 3-point range for the first time in his career.

After an offseason surgery on his Achilles, Williams said he’s feeling healthier this year despite some lingering issues.

"Coach has been doing a tremendous job of making sure my Achilles is staying as fresh as it can," he said. "He’s been resting me a little bit more at practice, and it really does help me out there in the game."

His teammates have been helping him, too. All but two of Williams’ baskets from 16 feet or beyond have been assisted this season.

"If he’s getting shots," Jefferson said, "that means the ball is moving and we’re making the extra pass."

afalk@sltrib.com

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