Late flurry propels Jazz to sixth straight winFeb 26, 2009 - 6:33 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Utah Jazz are finally beginning to look a little bit more like the Utah Jazz.
In Carlos Boozer's second game back since missing three months with a knee injury, the Jazz continued to roll through the month of February, taking control late in the fourth quarter en route to a 120-103 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
"It was an important win on the road," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "We need to play all four quarters though. We can't keep getting off to bad starts."
It was just the Jazz's second game with their full lineup, as four of their top six players have missed significant time due to varying injuries. But the team is starting to get healthy just in time.
It wasn't always pretty, but it was just enough. The starters looked flat and lethargic for much of the night but got bailed out by the second team - primarily the hot shooting of Kyle Korver and the all-around play of Andrei Kirilenko.
"We just kind of moved around out there and exchanged places," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Then we started executing a little bit and got back in the game at the end of the first quarter, otherwise it looked like it was going to be a long hard night."
But the starters got it together when they needed to - namely, in the fourth quarter. The T-Wolves were within four with 5:26 to play, but the Jazz closed the game on a 19-6 run to turn what could have been a nail-biter into a runaway win - Utah's ninth in its last 10 contests.
"I'm only interested in trying to win," Sloan said. "I'm not looking for any losses, wherever we can be. We need to figure out some way to win every night. ... Whatever it takes to do that, I'm satisfied with that."
Deron Williams recovered from a 1-of-9 first half and came up with key buckets in the second half, including a drive to the hoop with four minutes on the clock to extend the Jazz's lead to eight. He buried three free throws over the final 2 1/2 minutes and set Mehmet Okur up for back-to-back 3-pointers in the last 54 seconds to put the finishing touches on the victory.
"The good teams take advantage of their best players," Minnesota coach Kevin McHale said. "Last night they went to Bosh and tonight it was Deron Williams or Okur hitting those threes. We need to play better defense in the second half."
The late flurry was reminiscent of the end of the first half - though the shoe was on the other foot. The Jazz overcame a sluggish start and seemed to have righted the ship, taking a nine-point lead with 3:15 to go in the second as Williams found Kirilenko on the wing for an open 17-footer.
But the Jazz managed just one basket the rest of the quarter, as Williams missed a pair of layups and Boozer turned the ball over twice. The T-Wolves capitalized. Mike Miller scored five quick points to cut the lead to 48-44 and Kevin Love added a three-point play to slice the deficit to a single point.
Moments later, Love - who controlled the paint all night while starting for injured center Al Jefferson - grabbed Randy Foye's missed layup and dropped in the go-ahead bucket to make it 49-48. By the time the halftime break rolled around, Minnesota had a four-point edge thanks to a 16-3 surge.
But the Jazz seemed to get things in order in the second half. After going into the break without a point, Ronnie Brewer opened up the scoring in the third quarter, taking a feed from Boozer for a layup to cut the Minnesota lead in half.
"We learned," Love said. "You can't let them score 69 points in the second half. That's what we learned tonight. You gotta step it up on D."
Boozer added a pair of buckets in the back-and-forth third quarter and finished with 12 points and four boards in his second game back.
"I'm working my tail off," Boozer said. "The coaches are doing extra stuff with me. It's doing really well today. I felt better then I did the first game I played and hopefully I can keep building on it."
The Jazz pulled ahead for good at the 9:47 mark of the fourth as Brewer drew contact on a layup and knocked down the ensuing free throw to make it a 90-87 ballgame. The third-year guard scored 16 of his 20 points in the final session.
"In the second half I started on the defensive end and got the ball to the basket," Brewer said. "I started to cut hard and that's just what coach told me to do. I started knocking down my free throws and that go me going."
Williams finished with 13 points and 13 assists, while Okur led the way with 25 points, going 4-of-5 from the arc.
Love collected 24 points and 15 boards - including seven on the offensive glass - for Minnesota, which has now dropped four straight.
"Kevin's going to be a tremendous basketball player for many, many years in this league," McHale said. "He's got a great nose for the ball, he's in there battling, he's going to be a very, very good player."
MINNESOTA 103 FINAL
Feb 25 10:25 PM
MINNESOTA 81 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 25 9:50 PM
MINNESOTA 55 HALFTIME
Feb 25 9:06 PM
MINNESOTA 26 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 25 8:34 PM
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