SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah point guard Deron Williams, who
finished his rookie season on high note, is prepared for his second
NBA campaign and it shows.
"I feel ready for the season to start -- really ready," said
Williams, who had 21 points and 7 assists to lead the Utah Jazz to
a 122-96 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in the
preseason finale for both teams.
"We've made strides over the past couple of games. We're
getting beat too much in transition and we need to learn to help
each other more but the team has definitely come together,"
Williams made two free throws to give the Jazz an 87-58
advantage with 4:46 left in the third quarter before sitting out
the rest of the game. None of the Jazz starters played more than 23
Matt Harpring scored 12 points for Utah and Carlos Boozer had 10
before they both fouled out in a game in which the teams combined
for 73 fouls. Andrei Kirilenko and Ronnie Brewer each added 13
points for the Jazz, who evened their exhibition record at 4-4.
Rafael Araujo had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Jazz played all 14 available players and looked fresh and
energized as they scored 21 fast-break points against the weary
"I think the Jazz ran real well on us. The fast break looked
real good, they set screens and on the offense, they execute real
well. I think they are on of the best in the league at doing that
and (Utah coach Jerry) Sloan definitely got them running it," said
Stephen Jackson, who had 19 points.
Sloan wasn't as impressed.
"We played a team that was tired. It was a helter-skelter
game," Sloan said. "We scored points but I dont know how well we
played offensively in doing the little things right. Some of our
young guys still have a lot to learn."
Al Harrington scored 24 points in 24 minutes for Indiana, which
finished 3-5 in exhibition play.
"We can't afford to play like that going into the regular
season. We got to get better," Harrington said.
The Pacers had three technical fouls in the first 7 minutes.
Jeff Foster also received a flagrant foul when he slammed into
Brewer late in the first quarter.
Led by Kirilenko's nine points in the first quarter, the Jazz
led 40-26 after their highest-scoring period of the exhibition
season, and never trailed again.
The lead reached 29 points in the second quarter as the Pacers
committed 17 first-half turnovers that led to 21 Jazz points. The
sloppy Pacers finished with 30 miscues after posting 31 turnovers
in their 109-96 loss to Charlotte on Tuesday.
"We didnt play well. The 40-point first quarter set the tone
for the whole thing," said Indian coach Rick Carlisle. "We are
light years away from being a good basketball team."
On the other side of court, Williams' play may have the Jazz
charted for the playoffs. Williams started the final 28 games of
the 2005-06 season and finally won Sloans trust as the season
"He was playing very well at the end of last year, he came back
in great shape this year, and he's been on top of everything weve
been trying to do," he said.
Derek Fisher missed the game for Utah with a bruised pelvis and
Mehmet Okur was out with a sore left hip flexor, but both should
return when the regular season begins next week.