Sloan nets 1,000th win with Utah as Jazz improve to 5-0Nov 8, 2008 - 6:26 AM By Tony Pizza PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Jerry Sloan added another notch to his distinguished head-coaching belt, but to him Friday was just another win.
Sloan became the first coach in NBA history to record 1,000 victories with one franchise as the Jazz coasted to a 104-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
"The most important thing is we won our fifth game," Sloan said. "I'm lucky to still be here, to have great coaches work with me - I'm thankful for that. I'm also thankful to (Utah Jazz owner) Larry Miller for allowing me to be here this long."
Carlos Boozer led the way with 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds to help the Jazz - one of just three remaining undefeated teams - improve to 5-0.
"I think (Sloan) was happier that we started out 5-0 than getting his 1,000 victory," Boozer said.
Sloan, the longest tenured coach in professional sports, has spent the last 21 seasons as the Jazz's head coach. He took over at the helm on December 9, 1988 - 17 games into Utah's 1988-89 season. Sloan's first win with the team came the next night as the Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers on the road, 110-102.
"It's a great tribute to him and all the players and coaches that have worked with him," Thunder coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "When it's all said and done, he's absolutely one of the best in our profession."
Fans that remained for the end of the game, which ended closer than it looked, chanted "Jerry Sloan" for the final two minutes of the game.
Practically from the beginning, the milestone didn't seem to be in question at all. Utah went on a 22-2 run to take a comfortable double-digit lead. The Jazz took control behind good ball movement and managed nine first-quarter assists on 11 field goals - even without star point guard Deron Williams, who missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle.
"We're just trying to build on what we've started so far, and hopefully D-Will can get back," Boozer said.
The Jazz doubled up the Thunder, 58-29 at the half, behind Boozer's 16-point first-half performance.
"They started the game hot and then we made a run and got back into the game," Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer said. "We started executing and getting stops that led to fast breaks and we got up pretty comfortably. I thought we came out a little sluggish and a little soft in the second half."
Oklahoma City managed to shrink Utah's lead to less than 20 with a 12-3 run early in the third quarter, then cut the lead to 81-71 early in the fourth quarter behind Desmond Mason's personal 6-2 run.
Mason scored nine of his 18 points in the final frame. The Thunder cut Utah's lead to as little as eight in the fourth but could not get any closer.
"We fought back, but just exerted too much energy and down the stretch just got a little worn out," Mason said.
Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko answered with back-to-back dunks to spark a 13-2 Utah run that effectively closed out the win. Kirilenko blocked Kevin Durant's fade-away attempt, saved the ball from going out of bounds and then delivered a pinpoint outlet pass to help set Boozer up for another dunk, giving the Jazz a 99-80 advantage.
Kirilenko finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Durant's fellow first-round draft mate, Jeff Green, chipped in 22 points in the loss.
The Jazz, which learned before the game that they would be without Williams for at least another two weeks, finished with 19 turnovers. However, they still managed to finish with 31 assists thanks to reserve guard Brevin Knight's 11-assist, four point, three-steal performance.
"The bottom line is that we are winning," Boozer said. "We still have a lot to improve on. I think we all acknowledge that we didn't play great in the second half of this ballgame, but the great thing is we're going to be able to learn as we continue to win."
Okur scored 16 on 5-of-9 shooting for the Jazz, who shot 50 percent (36-of-72) as a team.
Durant, the second-overall pick of the former Seattle SuperSonics last year, scored 24 points for the Thunder, who fell to 1-4 since the franchise's move to Oklahoma City.
OKLAHOMA CITY 97
UTAH 104 FINAL
Nov 7 11:29 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 61
UTAH 78 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 7 10:56 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 29
UTAH 58 HALFTIME
Nov 7 10:12 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY 15
UTAH 29 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 7 9:40 PM
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