Not Passed Over Now

Although Jazz point guard Deron Williams was passed over for the All-Star game, he's been instrumental in Utah's rise to the top of the Northwest Division.

Williams looks to lead the surging Jazz to their fourth straight victory when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

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In its first game after the All-Star break, Utah (35-19) defeated Golden State 119-109 on Tuesday for its 13 win in 14 games. The Jazz, fifth in the league with 105.6 points per game, had a season-high 77 first-half points on 68.1 percent shooting (30-for-44).

"We were happy with the 77. We were up 13, so we can't complain,'' Williams said. "We could have done a better job of helping each other out, but it was a pretty solid game for our first game back.''

Williams finished with 29 points and 12 assists as he continued his red-hot play. He's averaging 19.1 points and 11.7 assists while shooting 52.6 percent in his last 13 games, recording double-doubles in 12 of those.

"I've been watching him play like an All-Star for three years now, and he's just a sensational young player," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "I'm a big fan of his, and I always have been."

All-Star forward Carlos Boozer chipped in 16 points and 12 rebounds against Golden State. He's averaging 19.6 points and 11.2 boards in his last five games against the Clippers.

Utah's current surge began with a couple of games against Los Angeles just over a month ago.

After losing to then-Northwest-leading Denver 120-109 on Jan. 17, the Jazz defeated the Clippers 106-88 at home the next day. Boozer led Utah with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Williams had 15 points and six assists and five other Jazz players scored in double figures.

In their next game Jan. 21, the Jazz shot 57.0 percent in a 109-93 win over the Clippers at Staples Center. Williams had 18 points and 13 assists, Boozer added 12 points and 12 boards and once again, five other Jazz players reached double digits in scoring.

The Jazz were two games out of first place Jan. 17, but now have a 1 1/2-game lead over the second-place Nuggets.

The Clippers (18-33) are mired in last place in the Pacific Division. They beat lowly Memphis 100-86 on Wednesday, and will once again be trying to win consecutive games for the first time since starting the season 4-0.

"Winning still matters,'' reserve forward Tim Thomas said. "You don't want to say the season is over right now. You play until it is over. We don't want to quit right now just because we had some injuries at the start of the season.''

Corey Maggette had 30 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday and is averaging 27.3 points - 5.5 better than his season average - in his last six games. He's scored 43 points in the two games against the Jazz this season.

Utah has won five of six meetings with the Clippers since the start of last season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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