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Utah's surge should worry foes

It's a question that made the rounds through the NBA last week: Just how good is Utah?

The answer is really good, on paper. Despite a murderous schedule (nine of the Jazz's 12 opponents in January had winning records at the time), Utah finished the month with a 10-4 mark and vaulted from an eighth-place tie in the Western Conference on New Year's Eve to sole possession of fourth.

Consistency, coupled with the resurgence of Carlos Boozer, has been the key.Six Jazz players are averaging double figures in scoring, paced by Boozer (19.2 points) and Deron Williams (19.0). They have been unselfish on offense (according to hoopdata.com, Utah has the highest assist rate in the league) and stingy on D (opponents are connecting on 45 percent of their shots, the seventh-lowest percentage in the NBA).

The tests will keep coming in February. Eight of Utah's 11 opponents this month are in position to make the playoffs and nine have winning records. Another month like January and the fast-rising Jazz could be making a push for No. 1.

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(All stats and records are through Jan. 31.)

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