Williams hopes to regain his shooting touch and help lead the Jazz to a third straight victory when they visit the Houston Rockets on Friday.
Utah (23-9) survived Williams’ 1-of-12 shooting in a 98-87 victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday. Williams, however, made up for it with his passing by handing out nine of his 14 assists in the second half.
“We had a lot more energy in the second half all around, I think getting out and running really helped us because it opens everything up and puts pressure on them and we get a good flow,” he said.
Williams finished with a season-low seven points after an eight-point performance in a 96-86 victory over Portland on Saturday. The point guard, tied for second on the team with 16.5 points per game, failed to reach double digits only twice in his first 30 contests.
One reason Utah was able to overcome Williams’ lack of scoring Wednesday was a big game off the bench from Matt Harpring, who scored 20 points. The forward missed two of the last three games with a stomach virus before recording his highest point total since Nov. 17.
“Matty was great,” Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said. “Came in, made shots, rebounded, defended, made more shots. … He gave us a big lift of the bench.”
Houston (20-12) has survived the absence of Yao Ming to match a season high with four straight victories. Tracy McGrady continued his recent surge with 31 points in a 103-96 victory over Seattle on Wednesday.
“We’re real confident right now,” McGrady said. “I think the games that we’ve been in have been pretty close down the stretch and we found ways to win. That’s just how we feel. We’re playing confident basketball.”
McGrady has been a big part of the strong play, averaging 29.3 points during the win streak. He realizes more of the scoring load falls on him without Yao’s team-high 25.9 points per game.
“I’ve got to pick some of that scoring up,” he said. “I’ve got to lead this ballclub while he’s out. I’ve done it before and it’s nothing new to me and I will just continue to do it.”
Dikembe Mutombo has started the last five games in place of Yao and is averaging 10.4 rebounds in those contests.
The Rockets have averaged just 10.0 turnovers in their last three games after committing only nine Wednesday.
“The last three games we have handled the ball significantly better,” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Utah beat Houston 107-97 on Nov. 1 in the teams’ season opener as Boozer had 24 points and 19 rebounds. McGrady made just 8-of-24 shots, but scored 25 points and added nine assists.