Boozer lifts Jazz past KingsJan 26, 2008 - 6:02 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) The Utah Jazz still are just outside the Western Conference playoff standings. With another win or two, they could have their hands on the fourth seed.
The Jazz one of the best home teams in the NBA all season continue to push back toward the playoff picture and the top of the Northwest Division with a 127-113 victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings.
Carlos Boozer posted his 30th double-double of the season with 33 points and 10 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko rebounded after an off-night with 25 points, six boards, six assists and four blocks as the Jazz withstood a strong effort from Kevin Martin and the quietly surging Kings before gradually pulling away.
"It was a great game because everybody contributed really well," Boozer said. "When we get that kind of playing, we're a pretty good team."
Sacramento entered the game winners of six of their last nine games, including victories over sure playoff teams such as Detroit, Dallas, Orlando and Toronto.
Although the Kings kept within striking distance, they couldn't quite match Utah's firepower.
"The Jazz played extremely well. They're just so good. (Deron) Williams just knows how to get the ball to the right places," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "You look at the game statistically we played pretty well, they played pretty well - We needed a couple stops and we couldn't get it done."
After playing from close behind for nearly the entire game, the Kings suddenly pulled into a dead heat midway through the third quarter thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Martin and Brad Miller.
But the Jazz, notorious for letting leads slip away this season, particularly on the road, pushed right back. Boozer knocked down 20-footers on back-to-back possessions and Mehmet Okur buried a deep 3-pointer two minutes later to give the Jazz a four-point edge, 80-76.
Boozer made his first 13 shot attempts not missing until the final second of the third period and finished 15-of-19 from the floor.
"I tried to get layups first. I hit a bunch of layups early," Boozer said of his hot-shooting performance. "The net seemed huge to me, so when you go out there shooting jump shots, you feel comfortable already."
A pair of second-year players helped the Jazz take over the momentum for good. Paul Millsap blocked Martin's runner in the paint, Ronnie Brewer snagged the rebound and pushed a fast break the other way, culminating in a Boozer dunk as Utah pushed its advantage back into double digits, 86-76.
Even as the Kings trimmed their deficit into single digits in the final period, their hotheadedness got them into a bit of trouble.
Ron Artest, who had been in a physical battle with the Jazz all night - often drawing the ire of the EnergySolutions Arena fans was called for a pair of technical fouls in the fourth, getting ejected at the 4:34 mark after getting tangled up with Boozer on a Kirilenko free throw.
"I think in the fourth quarter the game became a little bit hot," Kirilenko said. "Ron Artest (was) out there a little bit doing what he likes to do being aggressive, being physical, a little bit too much. It's very hard to get me out of control. I'm very cold-blooded I'm Russian. It's very hard to get me hot."
Artest shoved Boozer with a forearm and was immediately whistled for his second technical, walking off the floor without any argument. Theus was also called for a technical in the fourth making it a grand total of three free foul shots for the Jazz, who sank all three.
"I thought our guys played well to hang in there and stay with them and be able to win the ballgame," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "They got a little bit crazy there for a while, but fortunately things finally worked out and they kind of cleared things up."
After getting in foul trouble and neglecting to take a single field-goal attempt in Monday's win over the Clippers, Kirilenko was one of the prime aggressors on Utah's offense Friday night. The 6-9 forward regularly pushed the ball into the paint, knocking down 8-of-10 free throws and hitting a season-high three 3-pointers.
"Those games happen. ... I haven't played in four or five days, so I was feeling pretty good," Kirilenko said. "They were kind of aggressive defensively, trying to get a physical game. So every time I got the ball, a guy was hanging on me. I'm supposed to make a move to get the guy off me."
Martin led the Kings with 32 points, including 15-of-15 from the line, while Miller added 16. For Utah, Deron Williams scored 16 points and dished out 14 assists.
UTAH 127 FINAL
Jan 25 11:30 PM
UTAH 95 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 25 10:52 PM
UTAH 58 HALFTIME
Jan 25 10:06 PM
UTAH 26 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 25 9:32 PM
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