Ten days ago, Utah’s Mehmet Okur had the highest-scoring game of his five-year career. He hasn’t slowed down too much.
Okur will try to help the Northwest Division-leading Jazz to their fifth win in a row when they host the road-weary Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.
Okur scored a career-high 38 points in a 114-111 loss at Washington on Jan. 15. In four games since then, including road wins at Detroit, Toronto and Chicago, the Jazz center is averaging 24.5 points per game. He scored 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting with four 3-pointers in Utah’s 106-91 home win over Minnesota on Monday.
Williams deflected praise to Okur, the recipient of many of his passes.
“He’s definitely important. He’s playing great for us as of late,” Williams said. “Hitting shots, going to basket, drawing fouls and it definitely opens things up for everyone else when he’s hitting on all cylinders.”
Okur had 20 points and nine rebounds in Utah’s 100-97 road win over Memphis on Dec. 23 in the teams’ only matchup this season. Boozer had 24 points and 11 boards for one of his 31 double-doubles in 2006-07, and Williams added 17 points and nine assists.
Utah also won the last meeting in Salt Lake City, ending a three-game home slide to the Grizzlies with a 105-102 overtime win on Dec. 26, 2005, behind Okur’s 23 points and 10 rebounds. Still, the Jazz have shot below 44 percent from the field in nine of their last 10 games against Memphis.
The Grizzlies (10-32) lost their 10th in a row on the road Monday, 115-98 at Denver. Pau Gasol, the subject of recent trade rumors, led Memphis with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
Grizzlies second-leading scorer Mike Miller, averaging 17.2 points, was held to five points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Miller also committed five of Memphis’ 20 turnovers. The team is averaging 21.0 turnovers over the last five games.
“That’s been a bad thing for us, not taking care of the ball, and that’s a very important thing in this league to win ballgames,” Gasol said. “We’ve got to reduce turnovers, which will produce more opportunities in shooting the ball and minimize their opportunities in getting fast breaks.”
Gasol, who missed the first six weeks of the season after breaking his foot playing for Spain this summer at the World Championships, is averaging 21.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in 10 games this month.
The Grizzlies, who own the league’s worst record, are mired in their longest road skid since a 12-game slide from April 16-Dec. 6, 2002.
Memphis completes its four-game road trip Friday at San Antonio.