Utah's Harpring steps up to help down former teamJan 4, 2007 - 7:23 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- A night after getting the best of Allen Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers were done in by a lesser-known former teammate.
Matt Harpring scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter as the Utah Jazz continued their mastery of the 76ers with a 98-87 victory.
Carlos Boozer had 27 points and 14 rebounds and Mehmet Okur scored 21 for the Jazz, who beat the Sixers for the third straight time overall and fourth in a row here.
Facing the former MVP for the first time since he was traded to the Denver Nuggets on December 19, Philadelphia overcame 30 points by Iverson to post a 108-97 victory on Tuesday.
Although the Sixers left that encounter smiling, Harpring - who played with the Eastern Conference club during the 2001-02 season - ended the good times by leading a third-quarter charge that helped improve the Jazz's league-best home record to 14-2.
"In my career, this has always been a fun place to play but a tough place to play," said Utah guard Derek Fisher, who had 12 points. "I think teams know coming in that the game's gonna be physical, we're going to run the floor, we're going to put a lot of pressure on you.
"We play with confidence at home. The fans are behind us. They've always been great, and it's a great combination."
A reserve for Utah, Harpring made the most of his 19 minutes off the bench, shooting 10-of-14 from the floor.
"He played great," Boozer said. "He came in and made shots, rebounded, defended. ... He gave us a big lift off the bench."
With the game knotted at 60-60 with under four minutes left in the third, Harpring scored the go-ahead layup and added six more points in the closing 2:55, including a layup as time expired for a 76-68 edge.
"I was getting easy shots," Harpring said. "My teammates found me, I was just cutting and moving and trying to create something. My teammates found me tonight and I got a lot of easy baskets."
With the Jazz playing their first game of the new year, Harpring was quite happy with the league's decision to switch back to the old leather ball.
"For me, it was very little adjustment," he said. "Ten years using it, it felt good and normal to me. It's obviously very different from the ball we've been using this season, but for me personally, I enjoyed it."
Philadelphia closed within 78-72 on a 16-foot jumper by Andre Igudala more than three minutes into the fourth, but Boozer came back to score seven of the game's next 11 points for an 87-74 advantage with 6:09 remaining.
One of the players Philadelphia acquired in the trade involving Iverson, Joe Smith thought the deciding factor in the Sixers falling to 5-16 on the road was the Jazz's 13-6 advantage in offensive rebounding.
"That hurts, when a team is 13-6 in offensive rebounds," he said. "When it's close, you give yourself a chance on the road, that's all that you can ask for. B,ut (when) you're outrebounded offensively it's tough to overcome."
Despite once again ending up on top against the lowly Sixers (9-23), the Jazz expressed their positive thoughts about the play of their opponent, talking about how the team dynamic has changed since the trade of Iverson.
"With Iverson, you got a lot of guys standing around watching him," said Deron Williams, who handed out 14 assists. "They don't get a lot of opportunities. I think there's a lot more team basketball going on right now. They play a lot better defense, they get up and pressure more. I'm not saying they're a better team without Iverson. Iverson hadn't been playing for the last 10 games."
"It seems like they're having fun out there," Harpring added. "Obviously, everyone's getting the ball now, so it's fun to play basketball when you're getting the ball. I played with Allen, I played in Philly with him, so I kinda know how it was. So it seems like they're a pretty good team right now. They're playing team ball."
Andre Miller scored 17 points and Igudala added 16 for the Sixers, who dropped to 2-4 on a seven-game road trip that concludes Friday at Minnesota.
UTAH 98 FINAL
Jan 3 11:24 PM
UTAH 76 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 3 10:50 PM
UTAH 41 HALFTIME
Jan 3 10:06 PM
UTAH 22 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 3 9:33 PM
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