Okur, Jazz get back on track at homeMar 23, 2008 - 6:04 AM By Chris Bellamy PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- The aftershocks of the Utah Jazz's first home loss in nearly three months lasted two quarters. After that, they got back to work.
Mehmet Okur found his shot in the second half, scoring 19 of his 24 points after halftime as the Jazz overcame a poor start to hold off the last-place Seattle SuperSonics, 115-101, on Saturday.
Utah saw its franchise record-tying 19-game home winning streak snapped Thursday night against the high-powered Los Angeles Lakers and seemed to still be feeling the effects in the first 24 minutes against the Sonics.
The Jazz came out ice-cold, shooting 37 percent (19-of-51) from the floor, including 1-of-11 from 3-point range, as Seattle, which sits at the bottom of the Western Conference, raced out to a double-digit lead and led by nine at the half.
"We didn't have anything going for us in the first half," Utah point guard Deron Williams said. "We were still fighting, we were scrapping out there and we had a lot of deflections, but it seemed like we couldn't get our hands on them after that. (The Sonics) were making a lot of hustle plays and hitting shots."
But after the break, the Jazz got it together in no time at all, and it was Okur - who had been suffering from a stomach flu that limited his effectiveness in recent games - that provided the spark.
"Memo got us going. He took the game over in that third quarter, and then the rest of us got going," Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said. "I don't know if he had something to eat at halftime or what, but he came out cooking."
Eleven seconds into the third, Utah's sharp-shooting big man knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit to six. As the Jazz quickly cut into the Sonics' lead, Williams continued to look Okur's way, and it paid off.
Okur drove the lane for a pair of runners, sank four free throws and buried another jumper from the arc and that was all in the first five minutes of the third period.
"Second half, I was able to put the ball on the floor and (go) to the basket," Okur said. "I tried to get to the free-throw line and at least get something easy, something close to the basket, and then step back (to the perimeter). It worked pretty well for me."
The 6-11 center scored 14 of his club's first 16 points in the second half as Utah finally pulled even.
Perimeter shooting which was so ineffective in the first half helped the Jazz effectively put the game on ice in the opening minutes of the final period.
Kyle Korver and Okur hit back-to-back threes as the Jazz pushed their edge to 13 by the 8:50 mark.
"In the first part of the ballgame, when we got an open three, it didn't make any difference what time was on the clock, we just fired it up there. And we never had any chance whatsoever to get back and defend the other end of the floor," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Once we started moving the ball around and getting guys moving through the lane, we started to get a little bit more confidence."
Okur, an All-Star last season who started the campaign in an extended slump, has been on fire ever since, posting 14 double-doubles since the beginning of February after managing just four from November through January.
Boozer had 26 points and 13 rebounds and Williams added 15 and 14 assists for Utah.
Rookies Jeff Green and Kevin Durant led the Sonics with 23 points apiece. Seattle's offense came out hot, shooting 60 percent (15-of-25) in the first quarter but just 43 percent (23-of-54) thereafter.
"They just came out and turned up the intensity defensively in the second half," Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "And Memo had a great third quarter, which really, really hurt us."
UTAH 115 FINAL
Mar 22 11:30 PM
UTAH 85 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 22 10:59 PM
UTAH 52 HALFTIME
Mar 22 10:14 PM
UTAH 23 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 22 9:36 PM
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