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Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010

Jazz overwhelm Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) After a perfect preseason, Utah's slow start in the games that count was magnified.

News photo
Easy bucket: Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant throws down a slam dunk in third-quarter action at home against Utah on Sunday. The Jazz defeated the Thunder 120-99. AP PHOTO

That's what happens with a franchise that hasn't lost three straight games to start the season in three decades — a streak that's still alive after the Jazz got double-doubles from Paul Millsap, Deron Williams and Al Jefferson and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 120-99 on Sunday night.

Millsap had 30 points and 16 rebounds, Jefferson added 23 points and 10 rebounds and Williams directed the show before finishing with 16 points and 15 assists as Utah broke into the win column after an 0-2 start.

"People said a lot about our team, but tonight we proved otherwise," Millsap said. "We proved that we could play defense, we proved that we could move the ball like we're supposed to, we proved that we can make shots."

The Jazz haven't started 0-3 since the 1979-80 season, when they lost four in a row and 17 of 19 in the franchise's first year in Utah.

Instead, they snapped Oklahoma City's season-opening two-game win streak behind a strong push in the middle of the game when they outscored the Thunder 40-13.

"We knew we could play a lot better offensively and defensively. That's why I said we weren't worried," Williams said. "Upset because we're losing, but we weren't worried.

"We knew we could play a lot better on both ends. We came out and did that."

Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 28 points but also had six of the team's 14 turnovers. Russell Westbrook scored 22 to go with four steals.

That wasn't nearly enough to contain Williams.

"We just (weren't) playing tough enough," Westbrook said. "We couldn't get a stop and they were executing their plays very well."

Utah finished off its first-half flourish when Andrei Kirilenko curled into the lane for a basket and converted it into a three-point play and a 56-40 halftime lead.

Heat 101, Nets 78

In Newark, N.J., LeBron James scored 20 points, and Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were close behind as Miami ended the Nets' two-game unbeaten start.

Bosh finished with 18 points and Wade added 17, both getting most of them in the Heat's dominant first half before sitting out the fourth quarter. James played a little of the final period and added seven rebounds and seven assists.

It was the most impressive offensive performance yet for Miami, which has won three straight since beginning its new era with a loss in Boston on opening night.

The Heat shot 68 percent in the first half, when their Big Three combined for 41 points — one fewer than New Jersey — and the stats only lowered when the reserves took over toward the end.

Nets coach Avery Johnson said this was just one of those games that his team struggled in every phase, and it never improved. He seemed shocked to discover the Nets didn't block a shot, noting it might be the first time that's happened to one of his teams.

Mavericks 99, Clippers 83

In Los Angeles, Jason Kidd ended the first half with a 20-meter shot-put heave from inside the 3-point arc at the opposite end, and Caron Butler scored 17 points and Shawn Marion had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as Dallas beat the Clippers.

Rookie Blake Griffin had 16 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles, which fell to 0-3 on the season under new coach Vinny Del Negro.

"We got down offensively and didn't make shots, which affected our defense," point guard Baron Davis said. "We just ran into a team that stuck to their game plan."

Griffin missed nine of his first 11 shots and also was hit with his first technical foul in his third career NBA game from referee Mark Lindsay after teammate Ryan Gomes was called for his fifth personal with 3:06 to play.

Lakers 107, Warriors 83

In Los Angeles, Pau Gasol had 26 points and 12 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant added 20 points as the Lakers kept up their unbeaten start with a win over Golden State.

Lamar Odom had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles, which easily improved to 3-0 with its 10th consecutive win over its upstate rival.

Monta Ellis scored 20 points for the Warriors.

"We're pretty happy with how things are going right now," Gasol said, momentarily resisting every ballplayer's mandate to nitpick even a blowout win. "We've been pretty successful against them the last couple of years, but the thing you can't do is relax. If you fall asleep, they can score a lot of points."

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