- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Deron Williams scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half and added 11 assists, leading the Utah Jazz to a 101-94 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night despite losing Mehmet Okur in the first half.

Williams hit his first eight shots in the second half and directed a 16-6 run that gave the Jazz a 15-point lead that proved insurmountable.

Carlos Boozer added 15 points and eight rebounds, Paul Millsap scored 14 and Okur had 12 points before he was poked in the eye in the second quarter and had to leave the game.

Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook added 22 points.

The Jazz came in with a 13-20 road record that was the worst among the top nine teams in the Western Conference, having lost three in a row after a season-best four-game win streak away from home.

But this time, Williams provided a big enough lead down the stretch for the Jazz. Williams’ last of eight straight makes to start the second half made it 94-82 with 4:38 remaining, and even missing one of his shots and having another one swatted to start an Oklahoma City fastbreak didn’t matter all that much.

Westbrook’s two-handed jam got Oklahoma City to 97-92 with 32.6 seconds left, but Kyle Korver hit all four of his free throws from then to close out the game.

Okur, Utah’s second-leading scorer with a 17.6-point average, headed to the locker room after getting poked in the eye by Chucky Atkins with 7:41 left in the second quarter and did not return. Trainers reported that he had no structural damage but couldn’t return because he was seeing double.

Millsap replaced him and scored 14 points off the bench, while Korver finished with 10 points. Utah moved into a tie with Portland for second place in the Northwest Division, one game behind Denver.

Jeff Green had 15 points, Nick Collison recorded his second straight double-double off the bench with 11 points and 10 rebounds and Nenad Krstic scored 10 points for the Thunder.

The Jazz took the lead for good with a six-point burst early in the second quarter that Okur finished with a jumper in the lane on his last shot before he went out. Utah then started pulling away with a 10-2 run sparked when Ronnie Brewer had time to set up for a two-handed windmill jam on a 3-on-none fastbreak.

Williams’ runner pushed the edge to 45-35, and the Jazz were up by nine at halftime before the point guard went to work again in the second half.

He had four baskets and passed out assists on the other four while directing a 16-6 run that put Utah up 71-56 with 4 minutes to go in the third quarter. Williams finished the quarter 6-for-6 from the field and made his first eight shots of the second half in a performance reminiscent of Derrick Rose’s 10-for-10 second half shooting in the Chicago Bulls’ 103-96 win at Oklahoma City two nights earlier.

Notes:@ The Thunder recorded three straight sellouts for the first time and now have 13 on the season. Their next home game, Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers, is also sold out. … Players from both teams paused and applauded after a ceremony at the first quarter break to honor Cpl. Christopher Dill, the first Oklahoma City firefighter to die while on duty in 20 years. Dill, a former Marine, collapsed and died after fighting a three-alarm apartment fire March 4.

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