Williams' 27 points help surprising Jazz improve to 8-1

SEATTLE (AP) -- Unlike last season, coach Jerry Sloan can fall back on a talented bench, mixed with youth and veterans, that provides plenty of energy.

His starters are pretty good too, led right now by second-year guard Deron Williams.

Williams continued his string of outstanding all-around play with 27 points, veteran reserve Matt Harpring added 21, and the Utah Jazz improved to 8-1 with a 118-109 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night.

Williams scored 23 in the second half and scored at least 20 points for the third time in Utah's last four games.

"Deron really played well the whole second half. He is getting more confidence and learning to handle the ball in pressure situations," Sloan said. "This team is getting good together."

The 8-1 start for Utah -- best in the NBA -- is the second-best in franchise history, trailing only a 9-1 start to the 1999 season. Utah gets a chance to match that on Saturday night, hosting Phoenix.

It's unclear if Andrei Kirilenko will play in that game. The talented Russian forward stayed in Salt Lake City, missing his second straight game with a sprained right ankle.

The Jazz didn't need him against the Sonics. Six Utah players finished in double figures, with rookies Paul Millsap and Ronnie Brewer both scoring 11 points. Brewer started in place of Kirilenko, and will be a valuable asset on the bench when Kirilenko returns.

But the starters weren't without contributions. Mehmet Okur scored 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, and Carlos Boozer recorded his eighth double-double in nine games with 14 and 13. The only game Boozer didn't get a double-double was Utah's only loss, a 96-89 setback at New Jersey on Nov. 8.

"We've got a team of a bunch of unselfish guys. That's why we're 8-1," Boozer said. "We've got guys that are happy with their roles and do it with passion."

Williams made seven of 11 shots in the second half, went 7-for-9 at the free throw line, and combined with Derek Fisher to hand out 14 of Utah's 27 assists. Williams also kept Seattle's Luke Ridnour in check, leaving the Sonics' scoring load to Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.

Allen finished with 32 -- his fourth game already with 30 or more points -- and Lewis added 24. But a third and fourth scorer failed to emerge for the Sonics (4-6), who have lost two straight at home after a three-game win streak.

Ridnour finished with 15 points, most coming late. Ridnour had scored 19, 32 and 20 points, respectively, in his last three games, but he and Allen combined for 11 of Seattle's 20 turnovers.

"We were just careless with the ball. I think we took some chances that we shouldn't have," Seattle coach Bob Hill said. "When you get behind sometimes you panic and try and get it back too quickly."

The 118 points were a season high for Utah. Harpring's 3-pointer with 1:45 left put the Jazz up 107-97, just moments after Allen missed a wide-open 3-point attempt. It was just Harpring's third basket of the second half, but sent Seattle fans headed for the exits.

Okur added the final blow, hitting his second 3-pointer in the final five minutes with 50 seconds left, pushing the lead to 13. Utah also dominated the boards, outrebounding Seattle 47-27, including 19-5 on the offensive end.

Williams felt left out only getting three rebounds.

"It's hard for me to get some. They're always snagging them from me," Williams said.

Reserve Nick Collison added 11 points for Seattle, but the Sonics' reserves were outscored 47-24. Seattle shot 54 percent but gave up 36 points in the fourth quarter.

Seattle twice rallied to take leads in the third quarter, first at 57-56 and again at 68-67. But Utah closed the third on an 11-3 run behind six points from Williams to retake control.

The lead grew to nine early in the fourth, when Harpring ripped the ball from Ridnour's hands and went the length of the floor for a layup. Seattle got no closer than five.

"We've just snuck up on people. People didn't really talk about us," Williams said. "But we had a belief we are a good team."

Game notes
Seattle F Danny Fortson was inactive and may miss the next week after having increased swelling in his left knee. Fortson wasn't expected to travel with the team for Saturday's game at Golden State. ... Utah had 13 offensive rebounds in the first half. Seattle had 14 total.