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News » Utah Jazz: Boozer regains All-Star form

Utah Jazz: Boozer regains All-Star form

Utah Jazz: Boozer regains All-Star form There's a certain irony that the player cut out of the Jazz's "Be the X-factor" marketing campaign entering the season has proved to be just that through the first month, a former All-Star playing more and more like a future one almost by the day.

Whether he'll finish the season in Utah remains to be seen, but Boozer has quieted the controversy from last summer with a seven-game stretch that has reaffirmed his value to the Jazz , who have gone 5-2 in that time.

After watching Boozer total 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists while hitting 12 of 14 shots in Thursday's victory over Chicago, Deron Williams admitted that he now believes Boozer will be around for the long haul this season.

"I think so, the way he's playing," Williams said. "He's playing great for us right now, a big reason why we're starting to win some ballgames again."

Boozer has averaged 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 59.6 percent the last seven games. His numbers so far this season -- 19.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 54.2 percent shooting -- aren't far off what Boozer posted in his two All-Star seasons.

The first time he was selected, in 2007, Boozer averaged 22.1 points and 11.8 rebounds while shooting 56.9 percent before the All-Star break. He averaged 21.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 53.5 percent shooting before the break when he made a return All-Star trip in 2008.

Asked Friday if he was focused on being selected this season, Boozer said: "A hundred percent. I feel like I'm an All-Star when I'm playing at the level I can play at when I'm healthy and it was one of my goals, to get back to the elite level."

Boozer added that having individual aspirations was a good thing for the Jazz as well. "You've got guys that have goals and they set out to achieve them," Boozer said, "it only brings the level of your team up."

Although he struggled to open the season, going 3-for-14 in the Jazz's loss to Denver, Boozer's confidence has soared in recent games. Williams noted that Boozer has been going stronger to the basket, looking to dunk more and also has his jumper falling.

Boozer admitted that he was pressing to start the season. "For me, I calmed down, relaxed," he said. "I think it was the San Antonio game [Nov. 5, 27 points, 14 rebounds], I just chilled out and relaxed and ever since then, I've just took off."

"I think as much as anything," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan added, "his shot selection has gotten better and he's passed the ball more and that's made him even more effective."

There has been little talk of last summer's furor, though Boozer has enjoyed big games against both Detroit (22 points, seven rebounds) and Chicago, two of the teams to which he was linked in both free-agent and trade speculation.

"I'm very happy that he's not concentrated on that," Andrei Kirilenko said. "It is what it is. You know, the NBA, it's a huge business."

Kirilenko called Boozer "100 percent professional" on the court this season, with Sloan adding, "I think he came with the idea that he was going to do the best he can and I think that's all you can ask a guy to do."

The Jazz will face a decision about dealing Boozer prior to the February trade deadline or holding onto him through the season at the risk of having him leave for nothing in return as a free agent in July.

Boozer said it was "great to play great" Thursday and commended the Jazz for bouncing back from Tuesday's loss to Oklahoma City. He was asked if returning to Utah was exceeding his expectations.

"I thought we'd have a lot more wins early," Boozer said. "But that's part of the season. I'd rather have our losses now than later anyway. But, yeah, I would say, yeah, it's going good." Jazz vs. Blazers

At EnergySolutions Arena

Time ? 7 p.m.

TV ? FSN Utah

Radio ? 1320 AM, 98.7 FM

Records ? Jazz 8-7, Blazers 12-6

Last meeting ? Blazers, 125-104 (March 31)

Line ? Jazz by 3

About the Jazz ? Andrei Kirilenko needs one blocked shot tonight to pass Greg Ostertag (1,253) for second on the Jazz's career list. Mark Eaton holds the franchise record with 3,064. ... The Jazz shot 60.8 percent in Thursday's victory over Chicago, the first time they'd shot better than 60 percent for a game since March 8, 2008, against Denver. ... Ronnie Brewer had 15 points on 7-for-12 shooting against the Bulls.

About the Trail Blazers ? Portland is 4-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets. ... Former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden went into Friday leading the NBA in shooting (64.0 percent) and third in blocks (2.41). Oden is averaging 11.6 points and 8.4 rebounds this season. ... Andre Miller is averaging 10.8 points and 5.1 assists in his first season in Portland, but has come off the bench in the last four games. Star turn

Carlos Boozer's numbers both this season and during the Jazz's last seven games have not been far off those when he was selected to the All-Star Game in 2007 and 2008:

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Added: November 30, 2009


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