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News » Utah Jazz: No Jazz colossal collapse

Utah Jazz: No Jazz colossal collapse

Utah Jazz: No Jazz colossal collapse
They were about to add a new member into the club of monumental collapses. But even after they watched a 21-point lead crumble Saturday night like a house of cards, the Jazz were able to make the most of a new hand. They rallied from seven down themselves to force overtime, then took control in the extra five-minute session to beat the Phoenix Suns 104-99 and extend their EnergySolutions Arena winning streak to 14. Persistence was the key for Utah, which improved to 45-27 behind double-doubles from Mehmet Okur, who finished with a game-high 26 points and game-high 11 rebounds, Deron Williams, who scored 21 and dished a game-high 13 points, and Carlos Boozer, who added another 14 points and 10 boards. Williams used a couple crossovers to shake Suns point guard Steve Nash and hit an 18-foot jumper to tie the game at 90-90 with 13.9 seconds left in the regulation, and Andrei Kirilenko's rare four-point play helped carry the Jazz to a 14-9 advantage in OT.

"We've never been a team that quits," Williams said of a Jazz club that with 10 games to go in its regular season sits sixth in the NBA's Western Conference and third in the Northwest Division. "We've had a lot of ups and downs this year, and a lot of injuries and things like that, but we're not ready to give the season away," Williams added. "We still feel like we're a contender." It's only because they were able to shake off their wasted lead and overcome a 28-point swing, though, that the Jazz could feel so good afterward. "I don't know what happened," Okur, who wound up 10-of-15 from the field, said of the Jazz's second-half follies. "We just came out there kind of flat." Utah was up 58-37 early in the third, yet even then Jazz coach Jerry Sloan had a bad feeling. "Anytime you're playing against a team that's got the players they have on it ? Nash and Shaq (Shaquille) and guys like that that have experience playing in this league ? you've got to stay after it," he said. "We had a nice lead, and we just quit competing. And you can't afford to do that," Sloan added. "We walked around in our offense, and didn't get anything, turned the ball over. Fortunately Andrei (Kirilenko) made a four-point play to kind of help hold us in the ballgame, and I thought DWill (Williams) had a very good overtime game. It was terrific, and we needed that." Phoenix didn't take its first lead until a Grant Hill layup made it 78-77 with just more than five minutes to go in the fourth, but an O'Neal dunk with 2:11 to go gave the Suns a 88-81 advantage. The Jazz closed with a 9-2 run, though, that featured two jumpers and two free throws from Williams and an Okur 3-pointer that Williams delivered as well. Williams continued with his hot hand in OT, scoring seven of his 21 in the extra session ? including 4-of-4 from the free-throw line in the final 58.4 seconds. But it was the play by Kirilenko that really did in the 40-33 Suns, who ? despite a win last Wednesday over the Jazz in Phoenix ? are seeing their hopes of catching Dallas for eighth and final playoff position in the West dwindle by the day. "He hit a great shot," said Williams, who made that pass too. Kirilenko knocked down a 25-footer despite getting hit in the face by Hill, and he hit the free throw that followed that gave the Jazz for good at 99-96 with 2:20 left in overtime. And with that the Jazz avoided joining any number of bridges, the stock market and a rather lengthy list of infamous sports teams collapsing. "That (squandering the lead) was the bad thing about it," Boozer said. "The good thing about it is that we ended up winning the game." E-Mail:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: March 30, 2009


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