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Defense-Optional Approach Sinks Knicks In Utah

Jazz Do Whatever They Want In 131-125 Victory
Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams, right, is pressured by New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City, Wednesday Jan. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Colin E Braley)

Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams, right, is pressured by New York Knicks power forward Amar’e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Salt Lake City, Wednesday Jan. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Colin E Braley)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan told his players to bring their running shoes.

They did Wednesday night, with a season-high output in a 131-125 victory over the New York Knicks.

“We had success in the past playing that tempo against them,” Utah guard Deron Williams said. “They run hard on the offensive end and are a little susceptible on the defensive end. We used that to our advantage.”

Williams and reserve C.J. Miles scored 24 points apiece as Utah brought a balanced attack with seven players in double figures.

Al Jefferson added 19 points for Utah. Raja Bell had 18, Paul Millsap 17 and Andrei Kirilenko 14.

Utah reserve center Mehmet Okur returned to action after missing the last six games with a lower-back strain and finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

“I thought we had a lot of fun,” Sloan said. “Our guys played well. We passed the ball well. We really did a nice job of giving up the ball.”

The Jazz finished with 31 assists and shot 58.4 percent from the field.

When the game wasn’t a track meet, it was a 3-point shootout.

The Jazz hit 10 of 22 from beyond the arc and New York made 14 of 29.

Shawne Williams led the way for New York, making 7 of 8 to finish with a career-high 25 points. Bill Walker added a season-high 23 points as the New York bench contributed 49 points.

Amar’e Stoudemire scored 10 of New York’s first 20 points, but found himself in foul trouble. He picked up No. 4 just three minutes into the third period and played just 16 minutes through the first three quarters. He finished with 22 points.

“They got a lot of young guys; it’s the first time we’ve seen that,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said of players such as Miles. “They’re hard to handle. We fought as hard as we could fight. I thought (our) guys played well, made a lot of comebacks. But we just didn’t quite have enough.”

The Knicks (22-16) finished 2-2 on their western swing.

The Jazz, who hadn’t played since beating Houston in overtime on Saturday, were well-rested for the fast-paced game.

“We just went through our offense harder,” Deron Williams said. “Made harder cuts. We screened better. We got out and ran. That helps.”

The Knicks trailed by nine points in the first quarter and fought back to take a 32-31 lead. They were down 11 in the second quarter, but whittled that deficit down.

With Stoudemire on the bench in the third, Utah went on a 10-0 run to take an 80-64 lead with 7:20 left in the quarter.

But the Knicks came charging back again.

Shawne Williams started it with a 3-pointer. He followed with a four-point play and three consecutive 3-pointers for a 16-point third quarter.

The Knicks were within two points after a turnaround jump shot by Wilson Chandler, but Deron Williams scored four straight points as Utah took a 100-94 lead into the fourth.

Utah would lead by 14 again in the fourth, 121-107, on Miles’ fourth 3-pointer of the night.

The Knicks cut it to 125-118 on a short floater by guard Raymond Felton with 1:38 remaining, but Stoudemire missed a driving layup and Deron Williams hit a pull-up jumper to bump Utah’s lead back to nine.

Stoudemire, who also was nursing a sore shoulder after taking a hard foul in the first quarter, hit a late 3 for the Knicks. But it wasn’t enough.

The Knicks have lost five straight in Utah.

“Their second unit did a great job,” Knicks center Ronny Turiaf said. “C.J. Miles came in and had some pretty big 3s, a couple of offensive rebounds here and there. Sometimes they go foul you and tonight unfortunately they went against us.”

The Jazz won the rebounding battle (36-26), outscored the Knicks in the paint (54-40) and also had a 20-15 edge in second-chance points. And they showed they could run-and-gun with the best of teams.

“We got up and down the court, matched their intensity, and that was the big key for us tonight,” Millsap said.

NOTES: The Knicks played backup point guard Toney Douglas only four minutes because of soreness to his A/C joint. … Shawne Williams equaled the Jazz opponent record for 3-pointers in a half with seven. … The 131 points are the most the Jazz have ever scored against the Knicks. … New York’s loss was only its second in the last 12 against the Western Conference. … Okur on his latest health woes: “One good thing about this (back) injury, I don’t have to think about my leg anymore,” said Okur, who missed the first 26 games of the season because of a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.