They’ll have a good chance to do so Saturday when they host the lowly Boston Celtics, despite two other starters dealing with injuries.
The Jazz (36-18) won six in a row heading into the break, but lost 103-100 at Portland on Tuesday without Boozer and Williams. Utah bounced back with their two stars in a 114-104 win at Denver on Friday.
“It was a big game for me. It was a big game for us,” Williams said. “We wanted this one badly.”
Boozer started and scored 10 points in 12 minutes after missing eight games with a hairline fracture in his left leg. He leads the club with 21.8 points and 11.6 rebounds.
“I felt good,” Boozer said. “We want to take it slowly to make sure everything is strong and going in the right direction. I felt good in the 12 minutes I was out there.”
Williams, who missed Tuesday’s loss after straining his groin in the Rookie-Sophomore game last weekend, had 26 points and 14 assists.
Boozer and Williams could be expected to do even more Saturday. All-Star center Mehmet Okur, who averages 18.4 points, missed Friday’s game with back spasms, ending his consecutive starts streak at 233. Forward Andrei Kirilenko left Friday’s game in the first half with a bruised knee. It is uncertain if Okur and Kirilenko will play Saturday.
Utah prevailed Friday despite Denver shooting 52.2 percent—its fifth-best output this season. The Jazz scored 23 points off 24 Nuggets’ turnovers and the Utah bench outscored Denver’s 70-21, led by 22 points from Matt Harpring.
“Everybody stepped up big for us,” Boozer said.
Times remain tough for Boston (13-41). The franchise is mourning Thursday’s death of former star Dennis Johnson, who coached the NBA’s Developmental League team in Austin, Texas. On Friday, Boston lost for the 21st time in 22 games, 122-96 to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The loss was Boston’s 11th straight on the road, two shy of the club’s single-season mark set in 1978-79. The Celtics’ last road win came Jan. 5 against Memphis.
Paul Pierce scored 15 points - well below his 25.8 average - in his sixth game after missing 24 with a stress reaction in his left foot. He had 30 points in a 107-100 loss to the Jazz on Nov. 10.
“Once we got down, we just kind of got discouraged,” Pierce said. “We had lost so many games in a row. So when we get down and the lead goes to 13 or 15, it’s hard to have confidence.”
Boston, which is 8-20 on the road, had won four straight over Utah before the November loss. The Celtics have been victorious in their last three trips to Utah, which is 21-6 at home this season.