Kirilenko's triple-double leads Jazz in rout of LakersDec 1, 2007 - 7:43 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) - Half of one of the NBA's most explosive duos was watching from the Utah bench Friday night. The other half took over, as the Carlos Boozer-less Jazz topped the visiting Los Angeles Lakers in a shocking 120-96 rout.
With both his top scorer and All-Star center Mehmet Okur out of commission with nagging injuries, rising star point guard Deron Williams took on the offensive load himself, scoring a career-high 35 points and spearheading an explosive Jazz offense that found more than enough scoring options to keep Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at bay.
"I tried to score a lot tonight. ... We needed it tonight," Williams said. "I told Boozer I was gonna go for 40. I had to make up for him and Memo. I just tried to be aggressive."
The re-energized Andrei Kirilenko filled up the stat sheet as he's been doing all season, making plays all over the floor and finishing with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, six steals and four blocks - his first triple-double in 17 months and four steals shy of a quadruple-double.
"Andrei Kirilenko was sensational," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "You can go down the line of guys who played well. ... It looked like we were playing basketball and having fun. Andrei was huge in all of that."
Kirilenko had come within spitting distance of a triple-double on five separate occasions already this season, but finally accomplished the feat, his first since March 25, 2006 against the Sacramento Kings. He was also just one block short of another 5 X 5 performance (at least five in all the positive categories), which would have been the fourth of his career.
"When the whole team is cheering for you, it's tough not to do it," Kirilenko said of his triple-double. "A few games ago, when I was one assist (away), I couldn't make it, the whole team was making jokes with me. I think tonight we really did a great job sharing the ball, being unselfish. Everybody did their job."
On a typical night for the Jazz, Williams would be repeatedly feeding the ball inside, handing his opponent a healthy dose of Boozer in the paint. But with the Jazz shorthanded Friday night, it was Williams exploiting the Lakers' interior defense, repeatedly driving through the lane and finishing with athletic lay-ins and scoop shots as the Jazz built their lead as high as 28 in the third quarter.
"I think it gave us a different look. I think it gave us a kind of lack of familiarity with how we were going to be able to play against this team," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said. "All of a sudden without those two guys out there, I think it took us a step back a little bit."
Williams wasn't connecting from the perimeter early on, but found plenty of space in the middle.
"I saw the lanes open up a little bit off pick-and-rolls, off some curls, and I was able to get on top of the basket, get a couple fouls and got confidence off that," Williams said.
In the second quarter in particular, the Lakers were in a state of perpetual deja vu. Kirilenko found a slashing Williams underneath for a layup to push the Utah lead into double digits early in the second.
On the following two possessions, Williams drove the lane both times - first burying another easy bucket and then finding Kirilenko on the wing for a long 3-pointer.
But apparently the Lakers' defense hadn't learned its lesson. Time and again, Williams beat his defenders off the dribble and finished underneath the basket and when he was getting a little more resistance, he just muscled his way through. In the second quarter alone, he scored 15 points all in the paint, including his second three-point play of the night.
"They have such a great system, they play hard every time," Bryant said. "They were able to execute what they needed to do. They got great production from their bench and from their bigs. They beat us up pretty good."
When the Lakers began surging back in the third thanks to Jordan Farmar's hot hand, it was Williams that put the brakes on, forcing his way inside for another soft runner off the glass, plus a foul shot, to put the Jazz up, 90-70.
Prior to that basket, Los Angeles had cut a 28-point deficit to just 17. A suddenly lackadaisical Jazz offense that turned the ball over just three times the entire first half got sloppy, committing six turnovers in the third period alone. In fact, that was the one hiccup in Williams' performance he was careless with the ball at times.
But with a lead that never got lower than 15 the entire second half, the impact was negligible. Bryant who torched the Jazz for 52 points exactly one year ago in a 132-102 victory last November 30, never took over, finishing with 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
"There was plenty of time to recover, but we were really slow, ineffective," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "One of my coaches said we were as soft as Dairy Queen ice cream tonight."
Boozer, suffering from a sprained right ankle, is third in the NBA in scoring at 25.4 points per game. But the Jazz didn't miss his scoring Friday, as Paul Millsap started in his place and added 20 points and nine boards.
In Okur's absence, Jazz rookie Kyrylo Fesenko saw his first regular-season NBA action after just getting called back from the NBA's developmental league. He was a solid presence on the glass, snagging seven boards to go along with six points.
"What I think you'll find a lot of times, when key guys or star players are out, all of a sudden the ball's moving more, more people are touching the ball, other guys are involved that normally wouldn't be as much," Fisher said. "You find out that there are a lot of guys that can play on a team."
Both Boozer and Okur were game-time decisions and are expected back shortly.
For the Lakers, Farmar scored 13 of his 21 points in the third, while Ronny Turiaf added 12 points off the bench.
LA LAKERS 96
UTAH 120 FINAL
Dec 1 1:05 AM
LA LAKERS 82
UTAH 102 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 1 12:29 AM
LA LAKERS 51
UTAH 70 HALFTIME
Nov 30 11:41 PM
LA LAKERS 22
UTAH 30 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 30 11:06 PM
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