DENVER (AP) -- Deron Williams kept reminding teammate Carlos
Boozer to "hang in there."
Denver's zone was keeping such a close eye on Boozer -- Utah's
leading scorer and rebounder -- that he had no operating room.
"It was hard to get him the ball," Williams said.
So Williams did something about it, hitting four 3-pointers and
tying a career high with 28 points to lead the Jazz over the
Nuggets 96-84 Saturday night.
Denver had little choice but to pay more attention to Williams
which, in turn, opened up Boozer, who finished with 24 points,
including 14 in the final quarter.
"D-Will was like, 'Hang in there, we're going to get it to
you," said Boozer, who had just four points in the first half.
"Sure enough, it opened up."
Just in time, too. Utah saw a 19-point lead in the first half
cut to 68-67 with 9:30 remaining in the game. But Boozer's layup
and foul shot started Utah on a 10-0 run to restore some breathing
room and send the Nuggets to their season-high fifth straight loss.
Not that Utah was worried by Denver's fourth-quarter rally.
"No big deal," said Boozer, who also had 11 rebounds as the
Jazz improved to 21-5 when he records a double-double. "We stayed
Nuggets coach George Karl almost prophesied Williams'
performance. Before the game he called him an All-Star in the
making, and the point guard lived up to the compliment with 22
points in the first half.
He also had 12 assists. At one point in the second quarter,
Williams was almost beating Denver by himself, 24-22.
"I was just playing my game," he said. "I felt good out
And when Denver paid more attention to him, Boozer got loose.
"It's a Catch-22 as a coach," Karl said. "The results are
The Nuggets feel like they're living under a black cloud these
days. Morale is sinking. The team is feeling the effects of the
losing streak. Denver has now dropped to 3-6 since the league
suspended Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith for their roles in a brawl
with the New York Knicks on Dec. 16.
However, Denver will get Smith back after one more game.
"When you are in a losing streak and you can't find answers,
you're paranoid," Karl said. "There are moments when I think the
league is against us. We're not getting any whistles, A.I. (Allen
Iverson) gets beat up and no calls. It just seems like you get
paranoid and you think everybody is against us."
Iverson just shook his head when asked about Denver's psyche.
"To say (morale) is great would be a lie," said Iverson, who
finished with 22 points after scoring just five in the first half.
"Coach is telling us after the game, 'Just keep your spirit and
stay together.' Because that's the easiest thing to do when things
are going so bad is to point fingers at each other and get down on
each other and not stay together. That's easy to do when things are
going wrong. The real good teams are the ones that stay together
when they face adversity, not just when everything is going right.
We'll find out what type of character this team has while we're
struggling right now."
Iverson is trying to be on his best behavior these days. He's
even bending over backward apologizing for remarks he made about
referee Steve Javie after a loss to his former team, the
Philadelphia 76ers, last week. The NBA fined him $25,000 for his
verbal abuse of Javie during and after the game. Iverson said he
was sorry again Saturday -- for the third time in three days.
"I allowed my emotions to get away from me, and for someone who
has played in this league for as long as I have, that is
inexcusable," Iverson said through the team.
Iverson tried to sound upbeat after the game.
"The morale of the team is the most important thing," he said.
"Just staying together and believing in each other and believing
it will be a better day."
Denver C Marcus Camby sat out after irritating his
fractured finger on his shooting hand while blocking a shot in a
loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. ... Given Nene's
sore knee, Karl planned to keep him to around 20 minutes. The plan
worked as Nene played 18:32, scoring four points. ... The Jazz have
not scored more than 100 in five straight games. ... Earl Boykins
finished with 22 points. ... Mehmet Okur and Derek Fisher, who came
off the bench, each scored 10 points. ... Linas Kleiza tied a
career high with 17 points.