Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sonics beat Jazz, end Utah slump

By Associated Press, from Foxsports.com
Rashard Lewis and the Seattle SuperSonics are having a lot of fun this season playing with their up-tempo offense.

Lewis scored 22 points, Ray Allen added 19 and the Seattle SuperSonics picked up the pace in the fourth quarter to end an eight-game losing streak at Utah with a 98-88 victory over the Jazz on Monday night.

"I thought we were playing slow. We were playing at their tempo and we allowed it to become a half-court game," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said. "But we eventually turned it around."

A study in contrasts, the Sonics are usually best when they are able to freelance while the Jazz run a set play on nearly every possession and rely on precise execution. But Utah's offense repeatedly sputtered down the stretch as it shot 6-of-23 in the final period and stretched its streak of sub-.500 shooting games to 11.

Clinging to a 73-72 lead going into the fourth period, the Sonics went on a 14-5 run capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic.

"We don't make the same mistakes now. Everybody knows their job and they just go out and do it," said Lewis, whose job seemed to be spotting up for 3-pointers and beating the Jazz down the court.

While the Sonics scored from long range, the Jazz forced up shots to beat the clock or gave the ball away. The Jazz had a season-high 25 turnovers which Seattle turned into 23 points.

"Some of the turnovers, we just almost handed them the basketball without any kind of pressure on us," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.

The Sonics went 13-of-14 from the line in the fourth quarter to clinch the win, which came after losing 11 of 12 at Utah. Seattle last beat the Jazz in Utah on Feb. 1, 2000, a 104-96 victory.

"To beat them here at home, mentally it is a challenge," McMillan said. "I thought our guys kept their composure and played through the aggressive play. In the second half, I thought we got stronger."

Luke Ridnour scored 11 points, while Ronald Murray and Danny Fortson each had 10 for Seattle.

Matt Harpring scored 22 points and Carlos Boozer had 16 points for the Jazz. Boozer had 14 rebounds but committed eight turnovers for the Jazz, who lost four of five games on their pre-Christmas road trip and are 6-7 at home this season.

"We just didn't take care of the ball - those are mental errors and they cost you ballgames," said Raja Bell, who had 16 points for Utah.

After the game was tied at 52 at halftime, Boozer's dunk punctuated a 12-1 run that gave Utah a 66-58 lead.

The Sonics came right back and reclaimed the lead by scoring 13 straight points, including Ridnour's 3-pointer that made it 71-66 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

"Whenever we had things going our way, I thought we fell apart," Sloan said. "We couldn't sustain any energy."

The Sonics, who started a stretch of four games in five nights, haven't run out of energy all season when it counted. Seattle is 10-1 in back-to-back games after going 17-27 last season.

"Four games in five nights sounds tough and it is tough on the body, but we take one game at a time," Allen said. "By doing that, we've done some big things this season."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Johnson, Second-Half Burst Propels Suns

from NBA.com
The Phoenix Suns may have gotten off to a slow start in the first quarter, but the Utah Jazz couldn't contain the NBA's best transition game any longer than that.

Joe Johnson sank 5-of-5 3-pointers and scored a season-high 30 points to lead the Suns to a 108-86 victory over the Utah Jazz.

In the first quarter, the Jazz did not look like a team that had played at home a day earlier and traveled to Phoenix.

Led by Matt Harpring's 10 points, Utah jumped out to a 26-19 lead before Phoenix's high-octane offense produced a season-high 41 points while shooting 69 percent (11-of-16) from the field in the second quarter.

"We wore them down a bit," Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They played last night and we kept running them. We had spurts, from everybody."

Starting with a dunk by Shawn Marion, Phoenix went on a 16-5 run over the first three-plus minutes of the second quarter to take a 35-31 lead. Leandro Barbosa, who scored 10 points, hit a 3-pointer to put the Suns ahead for good and Amare Stoudemire capped the spurt with a three-point play.

Stoudemire scored 11 of his 19 points during the second quarter and Nash - who had 11 assists - added nine of his 13 over that stretch, including a baseline jumper with two-tenths of a second left to give the Suns a 60-49 lead at intermission.

Johnson had two 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the third quarter as Phoenix extended its lead to 89-72 after 36 minutes.

"We have a talented ballclub and I think the sky is the limit," Johnson said. "I think the first quarter, they came out with a lot of energy and that caught us off guard but like good teams, we found a will and a way to win."

Marion produced his 16th double-double of the season, posting 16 points and 13 rebounds, including six and three in the second period.

"In the second quarter, it just happened, we had everything going," Marion said. "We were stopping them and creating easy baskets for us. When we do that, we play our best."

Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Mehmet Okur added 11 and 11 for Utah, which surrendered a season-worst 60 points in the first half.

"We did some good things in the first quarter, then we stopped doing what we were doing," said Harpring, who scored all of his 15 points in the first half. "We weren't executing, we were doing more 1-on-1 stuff. When we got bad shots, they got rebounds and then they're off to the races."

The Suns outscored the Jazz, 14-10, on the fast break and entered Wednesday's game leading the league with 19.4 fast-break points per game.

Utah point guard Carlos Arroyo was benched in the first half following a vocal argument with coach Jerry Sloan in the third quarter of Tuesday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Raul Lopez started in place of Arroyo and dished out eight assists. He was held to just two points before leaving with a strained right abductor.

The Suns have won six straight games, averaging 116 points during that span with an average margin of victory of 15.5 points. Their 19-3 record is the best start to a season since current Suns point guard Steve Nash led the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks to a 21-3 beginning.

"This team destroys you and destroys your will to win," Sloan said. "They play as efficient as any team I've seen in a long time. They do everything you want a team to do, and they seem to like each other."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Jazz Update

The Jazz are a little below .500 with a loss to Miami. Now at 8-10 and last place in the North West division. Which statically makes them 7 games behind Seattle, who have a 15-3 record.

During the game Shaq reached a milestone in his career when he surpassed 10,000 rebounds. Got to give him props for that, even though I am not a big fan.

Raja Bell from the Jazz and the coach for Miami Stan Van Gundy had a few words in the first half. What was that about? It was brief as Bell laughed and turned around to end the conversation.

...And the Jazz host the Magic tomorrow and I believe the game starts at 9 pm eastern time.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Spurs Sack Jazz

from NBA.com

The San Antonio Spurs are using quick starts to finish off their foes.

Bruce Bowen fueled another early surge as the Spurs jumped to a big lead and coasted to their third straight win, a 109-76 victory over the Utah Jazz.

On Friday, the Spurs raced to a 23-6 lead in an 89-75 win at Denver. In this one, they jumped out to a demoralizing 28-10 advantage after one quarter and continued to pour it on, turning the entire second half into garbage time.

"Last night and tonight, everybody came out with focus and aggressive and ready to play," said Bowen, who scored all 11 of his points in the first half. "If we can apply the pressure, especially early, we can be a very good team."

"They started out just like I thought they would," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whose club has lost 18 straight meetings with the Spurs. "They came out and they tried to destroy us just like they have in the past couple of years."

Friday's quick start was powered by superstar Tim Duncan, who was almost an afterthought in this one. San Antonio was carried by its role players, including Bowen, who is better known for his defense.

The swingman had a 3-pointer and jumper on consecutive possessions to make it 11-4 just over three minutes into the contest. Two baskets by Manu Ginobili helped push the lead to 20-6 midway through the period.

"Tonight the ball was distributed," Bowen said. "They were good shots and not just one person was doing it. Our offense is predicated on everybody sharing the ball and we did that early tonight and last night."

Tony Parker also scored 11 points and Ginobili added nine in a dominant first half that ended with the Spurs holding a 54-28 lead. San Antonio shot 59 percent (20-of-34) from the field while holding Utah to 30 percent (13-of-43) and two assists. The Spurs enjoyed a 9-0 advantage in fast-break points.

"That's what they're paid to do, bring their best every game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We have to be consistent on defense, but it doesn't always work out that way. It did this time."

Both teams went through the motions in the second half, when the lead stayed between 23 and 37 points. The Spurs sat their starters for virtually the entire fourth quarter.

"(Popovich) was kind in not playing their front line players, or they would have had 200 points tonight," Sloan said.

Reserve Malik Rose scored 16 points and Ginobili added 15 for San Antonio, which shot 59 percent (36-of-61), scored 20 fast-break points and had six players in double figures. Parker and Devin Brown scored 14 points each and Duncan added 12 and 13 rebounds.

Matt Harpring scored 15 points and Gordan Giricek added 14 for the Jazz, who had injury added to insult. All-Star forward Andrei Kirilenko suffered a sprained right knee early in the second quarter and did not return. There was no update on his condition.

No Spurs starter played more than 27 minutes. The bench played 118 minutes and scored 55 points.

Carlos Boozer scored just six points before fouling out for the Jazz, who have not beaten the Spurs since February 6, 2000.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Kirilenko Keeps Jazz Perfect

from NBA.com

SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 8 (Ticker) -- Andrei Kirilenko had another complete effort, scoring 24 points and keying a critical second-quarter run, as the Utah Jazz posted a 102-91 triumph over the Denver Nuggets.

Kirilenko, who made 8-of-12 shots, grabbed six rebounds, had five blocks, four steals and four assists. The Russian forward has had a quick start to his fourth season and displayed his versatility in a 19-4 burst that gave the Jazz a 49-36 advantage midway through the second quarter.

Denver led 32-30 just 39 seconds into the second quarter when Kirilenko spearheaded the game's key run. He had seven points, two steals and two blocks in the seven-minute stretch in which Utah scored 19 of the game's next 23 points.

"I like blocking shots, but the main goal is to win the game. That's more important for us," Kirilenko said. "Right now, I feel great with this team."

"We did very well in the second quarter," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "When we moved well and handled the ball well, we got decent shots."

Utah's Raja Bell added 17 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, when the Nuggets climbed within 10 points.

"If we can continue to capitalize on our style of play and get up there in the 100s, that's cool, but if we're in the 80s and our opponent is in the 70s, that's just as good," Bell said.

Gordan Giricek had 14 points and Jarron Collins and Mehmet Okur added 12 apiece for the Jazz, who are off to a 4-0 start for the first time since the 2000-01 season.

Okur, who has been hampered by an eye injury, had his best performance in a Jazz uniform, pulled down a team-high nine rebounds in 20 minutes.

Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 17 points and eight rebounds. Denver was hammered 106-82 by Utah on Saturday.

"We came out and used the blueprint we used in that first game," said Bell. "We just executed, played hard and tried to help each other when they were trying to isolate us."

Anthony, who was plagued by early foul trouble, shot just 5-of-14 and had six turnovers.

"It's hard to get in the game mentally when you pick up three quick fouls and can't play much in the first half," Anthony said. "(Utah's run) happened kind of in the blink of an eye. I was on the bench, I don't even know how they got such a big lead. I tried to pick it up in the second half, but by that time it was a little too late."

Down 80-61 at the end of the third, Denver scored 10 of the first 12 points of the fourth, but Bell answered with a huge 3-pointer to push the lead to 14. When the Nuggets cut the deficit to 86-76, Bell hit another jumper and added a 3-pointer one minute later to give the Jazz a comfortable 93-78 lead.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Kirilenko Say Extension is Close

From ESPN.com, by the Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Andrei Kirilenko feels he is close to a contract extension with the Utah Jazz and hopes to have it completed within the next few days.

The Jazz and Kirilenko have until Oct. 31 to agree on an extension for Kirilenko, who is in the fourth-year option of his original contract. If no deal is reached, the All-Star forward will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season -- something both sides are trying to avoid.

"I think we're almost done. I think [in the] next few more days, everything will be done," Kirilenko said Friday before the Jazz's preseason game against Sacramento. "I want to be part of this organization forever -- for my career."

Kirilenko is hoping for the maximum 6-year, $86 million deal, but would not discuss details in the contract or what the holdup has been. He said he and the Jazz are more than 90 percent finished with the negotiations.

Kirilenko's agent, Marc Fleischer, said Friday night that negotiations were still going.

"We're not done. That's all I can tell you," Fleischer said. "There's only nine days left so I'm hopeful we can get it done in time."

Kevin O'Connor, Utah's vice president for basketball operations, said no deal has been reached.

"We've talked and the thing's gone back and forth, but we have no deal," O'Connor said. "Obviously time is becoming a little bit short now."

Monday, September 06, 2004

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