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Jazz pounce on Blazers, 108-97



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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Deron Williams had 27 points and the Utah Jazz defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 108-97 in a preseason game Tuesday night.

Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer each added 16 points for the Jazz (4-2), who led by as many as 25 points and appeared ready for the regular season.

Jerryd Bayless had 16 points for the Blazers (3-4), who overall seemed both tired and out of sorts. Brandon Roy had 15 points and Travis Outlaw added 10, all in the first quarter.

Utah center Mehmet Okur returned after missing Sunday's victory over Charlotte with a sore back and contributed five points. But Kyle Korver remained out with an inflamed left knee.

The Blazers made a surprise move when Juwan Howard started at forward instead of LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a left shin contusion and was a last-second scratch. Howard was acquired by Portland as a free agent in the offseason.

The Blazers were without center Greg Oden, who bruised his thigh on Sunday in Portland's come-from-behind victory over Denver.

Blazers swingman Rudy Fernandez missed the game because of a bad back, and coach Nate McMillan said he's unlikely to play in the preseason finale Thursday against Phoenix in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Jazz led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, jumping on the dazed Blazers. About the only spark for Portland was Outlaw, but even that was short-lived.

Utah's dominance continued as Kyrylo Fesenko's running jumper extended the lead to 40-26.

The Jazz led 59-40 at halftime, and Boozer's tip-in stretched the lead to 85-61 at the end of the third quarter.

Both teams pretty much sat their starters for the final quarter.

The officials drew the ire of fans -- who chanted their displeasure -- with a few questionable calls, but there was word earlier Tuesday that the NBA's labor dispute with the referees' union may be drawing to a close.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the league has made a new proposal. The person, who requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing, said it's "highly likely" the referees will be back for the opening of the season.

The Jazz, who went 48-34 last season before falling to the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, visit the Sacramento Kings for the preseason finale before opening at Denver on Oct. 28.

Portland won 54 games last season but fell to the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. After wrapping up the season against the Suns, the Blazers open at home against Houston next Tuesday.

Portland tried to acquire Utah forward Paul Millsap in the offseason, signing the restricted free agent to an offer sheet. But the Jazz matched the offer.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Anne M. Peterson AP Sports Writer

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