for this game

Shorthanded Jazz roll over Bobcats with big second half

Feb 3, 2009 - 6:02 AM SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- The lineup was virtually unrecognizable - but for one night, at least, it got the job done for the Utah Jazz.

Already without forwards Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko, the Jazz had to go without Deron Williams on Monday night, as their superstar point guard was sidelined with a bruised right quadriceps.

But Utah survived without him, overcoming a sluggish start to rout the Charlotte Bobcats, 105-86.

"You never know what to expect with as many guys as we have out," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Our guys that started, I thought played well, but it's a long night when you look at the whole picture. It's just one of those things that you've got to keep working and do whatever you can to win a ballgame. I don't think people understand how difficult it is sometimes."

While working with a lineup absent three of its top players, Utah had trouble during the game's early-going.

But the Jazz finally opened things up in the second half. Thanks to unlikely contributions from struggling sharpshooter Kyle Korver and little-used center Jarron Collins, the Jazz took their eight-point edge at the end of the third quarter and doubled it over the first six minutes of the final session.

That was all she wrote for the Bobcats, who couldn't recover. Two of Utah's remaining regulars, swingman Ronnie Brewer and center Mehmet Okur, did the heavy lifting while the role players filled in the numerous gaps. Okur led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting, while Brewer added 21 and five boards.

"We haven't been winning too many games lately, and a win is a win," Brewer said. "We started slow, but we pulled back and we finished strong and got the win. We have to play together, stick with our stance, run our offense and play together as a team."

The Jazz were able to exact revenge for a tough loss earlier in the campaign, despite having such a large chunk of its payroll on the sidelines. The Bobcats beat Utah, 104-96, on November 14 in Charlotte.

"They were much more aggressive than us," Charlotte coach Larry Brown said. "They got to the line more than us. Every effort play they made, we didn't make. As soon as it got physical, we went the other way."

Though both of Utah's Olympians, Williams and Boozer, have been plagued by injuries this season, Monday's game marked just the fourth time the team has played without both of them in their four seasons together.

"We had to find our rhythm," said Utah forward Paul Millsap, who scored 14 points and four boards while battling foul trouble. "We are so used to D-Will out there controlling the offense. Once we did that, we did a great job of executing the offense and playing good defense."

Ronnie Price got the start in place of Williams and scored 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting - despite not playing for 13 games in January, all because of a coach's decisions.

Despite winning in blowout fashion, Utah did not lead for the entire first half after allowing the Bobcats to shoot 59.5 percent (22-for-37) from the field and connecting at just a 44-percent rate itself.

"It was just fun getting a feel for being on the court again," Price said. "I started off slow, but it is kind of tough. You don't feel like you have rhythm or confidence at first, but even though things don't go right on the offense, it's up to us to play good defense."

Emeka Okafor got off to a hot start, scoring 12 points in the first quarter but finishing with just 15 for the game. That kind of performance was a microcosm for Charlotte's entire roster.

Utah amped up its defensive pressure and held Charlotte to 40 percent shooting in the second half and hit 58 percent from the field after halftime.

"We did a very good job in the second half," Sloan said. "We did execute our offense and got the basketball inside for easy baskets and got good shots out of our offense. When we execute, I feel pretty good that we get good shots and don't have to give up fast breaks."

Brewer gave Utah its first lead with a putback layup with 9:16 left in the third quarter. His 3-pointer just over a minute later gave the Jazz a 59-58 lead that they would not relinquish.

Utah used a 16-6 run to start the fourth quarter to blow the doors off the game and Charlotte simply did not have enough gas to keep things interesting.

Raymond Felton finished with 16 points and nine assists, but the Bobcats lost their third straight overall after upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers on the road on January 27 for their only win on a five-game road trip.

"It was pretty rough," Felton said. "(The) second half is what we've had pretty much all year. They outscored us by like 20-some points. We can't do that. But we've got to put it behind us. We're over with this road trip."

The win was the Jazz's first against the Southeast Division this year. The Bobcats out-assisted the team with the best assist average in the league, 23-22, but had a season-high 23 turnovers, which the Jazz converted into 32 points.

Utah has split the season series with Charlotte in each of the last two seasons.