Okur stays hot as Jazz beat MagicJan 13, 2008 - 6:45 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) - The beginning of the new year has been kinder to the Jazz than the end of the last one and with that seems to have come the rejuvenation of Mehmet Okur.
The Utah center an All-Star last spring but a disappointment so far this season had one of his strongest showings in months, scoring 29 points to go with eight rebounds as the Jazz won for the fifth time in the last six games, 119-115 over the visiting Orlando Magic on Saturday.
Two nights after overshadowing Amare Stoudemire with a 22-point, 17-rebound performance in a win over Phoenix, Okur faced another tough assignment Saturday night in Orlando center Dwight Howard and put together his second strong performance in a row.
"The last two games have been great," Boozer said of Okur. "That's the Memo we had last season, and that's the Memo we're looking forward to the rest of this season."
A day after seeing a lead evaporate on the road as the Northwest-leading Nuggets stormed back for a fourth-quarter win, the Magic tried to stage a rally of their own but fell short.
The Magic had been trailing the entire game until midway through the final period, when Hedo Turkoglu's 3-pointer finally brought them even at 93-93. But after Howard missed two free throws with a chance to move Orlando in front, the Jazz pounced.
"It was a little bit like last night," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I thought we battled and we got right there to the five-minute mark and it was a tie game. We probably should've had the lead. In any event, we were even and they made all the plays and shots and we didn't."
Andrei Kirilenko back in the lineup after missing the last two games drove into the lane and found Carlos Boozer underneath for a three-point play.
"AK drove down the lane, and when Dwight came over, he dropped it off, and I just finished strong with it," Boozer said. "AK is a very gifted passer, and sometimes you just have to have your hands up to see what he's gonna do with it."
Just moments later, the Jazz went back to their hottest shooter of the night. Deron Williams found Okur deep behind the arc but well within his range, as the 6-11 center buried his second 3-pointer of the quarter and fourth of the night.
"My teammates just kept telling me, 'Just shoot the ball, shoot the ball,'" Okur said. "They really trust me right now."
Okur scored 11 just one below his season average of his game-high 29 in the final period alone.
With the Orlando defense keying on him on Utah's next possession, Okur deferred to Williams, who put the ball on the floor and put up a soft runner that bounced around the rim but fell out. But Okur was there to clean up with a tip-in to increase the lead to 101-94.
"They played a switch and I think we had a mismatch," Okur said. "Deron tried to create an open shot himself, and I was right there. I had a good position, so I just put the ball in."
By that point, the momentum Orlando had garnered over the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter had all but disappeared. Turnovers, poor foul shooting and rushed jumpers characterized the final few minutes for the Magic, who have now lost five of six overall and are 1-3 on their current West Coast road trip.
Williams (17 points, 11 assists) and Boozer (15 points, 10 rebounds) both registered double-doubles for Utah, while Kirilenko added 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Howard led the way for the Magic with 29 points and 15 rebounds, including 17-of-24 from the free-throw line though he missed four key foul shots down the stretch.
"My whole thing was trying to attack. Every time I got the ball, I just went right at 'em, to make them foul me," Howard said. "I think I did a pretty good job at the line. It's just that, in the fourth quarter nobody could hit free throws."
Rashard Lewis added 27 points for Orlando.
The Jazz, who have won the first three of their four-game homestand, improved to 15-3 at EnergySolutions Arena.
"We've had success at home; I'm interested to see how we do when we've gotta go on the road," said Williams, referring to the club's 6-14 road record. "We've got a long homestand, we've got a lot of home games this month. We've got to take advantage of that. But also when we go on the road, we've got to turn that around as well."
UTAH 119 FINAL
Jan 12 11:40 PM
UTAH 85 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 12 10:51 PM
UTAH 57 HALFTIME
Jan 12 10:08 PM
UTAH 31 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 12 9:37 PM
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