The way he played Tuesday, it was hard to tell.
Williams got the better of Derrick Rose(notes), finishing with 28 points and a season-high 17 assists, while CJ Miles(notes) scored a season-best 26 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 132-108 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
“I always have fun competing against the best,” Williams said. “That’s my job and I enjoy it.”
It’s even more fun on nights like this.
He hit 3-of-5 3-pointers and threw down a vicious transition dunk on Rose that was more painful for the Bulls than it was for Williams.
It came during a 13-1 run late in the third quarter that broke a 77-all tie and sent Utah to its 22nd win in 27 games.
Miles scored 16 in the fourth, hitting four of his six 3-pointers, as the Jazz outscored Chicago 40-27 and secured at least a .500 record for the 26th time in 27 years.
“A couple of times, I was just standing,” Miles said. “But most of the time, I was sliding up and down. They have to pay attention to Deron when he’s penetrating. It’s Deron Williams. Same thing with D-Rose on the other end.”
With 25 points and a career high-tying 13 assists, Rose didn’t exactly get dominated in a matchup of All-Star point guards. But the Bulls tied a season high with their fifth straight loss even though Brad Miller(notes) scored 20.
Luol Deng(notes) added 14 points after missing practice the previous day with flu symptoms, but sat out the fourth quarter because of a strained right calf. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday, another blow for a team in the middle of a brutal nine-game stretch against contenders.
“I tried to see how it felt,” he said. “I tried to push it a little.”
Neither team played much defense, with Utah shooting 54.2 percent and Chicago 53.9, but the Jazz came away with their ninth road win in 11 games and pulled within one of Northwest Division leader Denver.
The Jazz simply did whatever they wanted, whether it was driving for a layup or dunk or burying jumpers. They shot 12 for 20 on 3-pointers, with Miles going 6 of 7. The highlight, though, was Williams’ big dunk on Rose.
It came with about four minutes left in the third, when Williams took a feed from Wesley Matthews(notes) on a 2-on-1, and threw down a one-hander that drew oohs and ahs from the crowd, making it 83-77.
“He’s always someone I looked up to and I thought he played real well tonight,” Rose said.
Miles finished the run with a 3-pointer that made it 90-78 with 1:27 left in the quarter and did his part to bury the Bulls in the fourth, but the point guards stole the show.
“Did you have fun watching it?” Boozer said. “I had fun watching it, too.”
So did coach Jerry Sloan.
“I like to see guys compete out there,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in a practice or in a game. Tonight, those two competed hard the whole game.”
Williams (16 points, 10 assists) and Rose (10 points, 11 assists) each had double-doubles in a blistering first half that saw neither team really bother to defend and Utah walk off with a 63-61 lead.
NOTES: Utah’s 132 points, 34 assists and 3-point percentage (.600) were season-highs for a Bulls opponent. … Sloan didn’t realize there was a life-sized action shot of him in the hallway near the Bulls’ locker. “Is that right?” he said. Sloan didn’t pass by his picture when the Jazz entered the arena. His is one of 10 former Bulls, including Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Norm Van Lier, Artis Gilmore and Chet Walker installed this season. There are also photos of Blackhawks legends.