Backups rally Jazz to ninth straight win
Share This Story
LOS ANGELESThe limited minutes that reserve guard Ronnie Price spent on the court for the Utah Jazz were as valuable as Carlos Boozer's contributions throughout the game.
Boozer had 34 points and 14 rebounds Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, leading the Jazz to a 109-99 victory that extended their winning streak to nine games. In his second game back after missing the previous three because of a right calf strain, Boozer was 13 for 17 from the field to help the Jazz win for the 13th time in their last 14 games.
"Booz was just a monster tonight and he proved that he should have been on the All-Star team. I think that's basically what he was doing tonight," point guard Deron Williams said.
Price proved to be a sparkplug in the fourth quarter after getting into early foul trouble. The game nearly slipped away, but his he was able to give the Jazz momentum while Williams was resting on the bench.
"The second group was able to get us back in there, and then in the fourth quarter, Ronnie Price and C.J. Miles just took control and got it back in our favor," said Williams, who had 13 points and 11 assists. "I didn't think I was going to go back in there in the fourth because they were playing so well. Those guys just ignited us."
Price, who played less than 8 1-2 minutes over the first three quarters and had three points, made a driving layup and a pair of 3-pointers during a 1:39 span early in the fourth quarter to help the Jazz pull ahead 88-86 after they trailed by as many as 11 with 8 minutes left in the third.
"He did a great job for us. He was alive out there," coach Jerry Sloan said. "That's Ronnie Price for you. He works that way in practice every day. He plays behind a great player, and I realize that he wants to play as well as anybody. He really made some nice plays for us and helped us win the game. That's what we want out of everybody."
The Clippers got as close as 104-99 on Eric Gordon's 3-point play with 3 minutes to go, but Baron Davis blew an easy fastbreak layup after a turnover by the Jazz, and Boozer sealed it for Utah 9 seconds later with a dunk that gave the Jazz a 107-99 cushion.
Utah took the lead for good, 90-88, when Andrei Kirilenko missed a jumper and Miles went up to slam home the rebound with 9:09 remaining. Back-to-back three-point plays by Boozer and Wesley Matthews increased Utah's margin to 98-89 with 7:17 left.
"We felt at halftime that if we started playing defense at some point, we'll have a chance," Boozer said. "It took us a little bit for it to ring true, but that second group came in and got enough stops, and the next thing you know, we had the lead when me and D. Will came back in. So all we had to do was maintain it."
Clippers center Chris Kaman, who was named to his first All-Star game on Sunday as a replacement for injured Portland guard Brandon Roy, had 19 points and seven rebounds. Rasual Butler had 18 points, and Gordon and Davis each added 16 for Los Angeles, which has lost seven of their last eight and two straight since Kim Hughes replaced Mike Dunleavy as head coach.
The Clippers have changed coaches 12 times since Sloan took the Utah job in 1988, tying them with the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets for the most during that stretch. Overall, there have been 236 coaching changes in the league since the Jazz hired Sloan.
"We're a different team right now," Williams said. "We have so many people playing well for us, we're confident and we're having fun. After being in 11th place a couple of weeks ago, now we're in third. I think we're playing the way we thought we would play coming into the season. We had some injuries early, and that's why we struggled in the beginning. But now we've got everybody healthy."
Trailing by as many as eight points, the Clippers pulled ahead 56-52 with a 12-3 run in the final 2:19 of the first half.
"We came out with energy and intensity and we had a good first half," Kaman said after the Clippers' sixth straight loss to Utah. "We just turned the ball over way too much - especially myself. We made it too easy for them. We gave them 27 points off (16) turnovers, and that makes a huge difference."
NOTES: A victory Wednesday night at home against the Lakers would give the Jazz their 10th double-digit winning streak in franchise history, and ninth under coach Jerry Sloan. The other was in 1977-78 in New Orleans, when the team's coach was former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor. ... Sloan's .766 winning percentage against the Clippers in the regular season (72-22) is his highest against any club. That record includes a 7-3 mark with Chicago. ... Kaman is one of three players in the league averaging at least 20 points and nine rebounds. The others are Chris Bosh and Zach Randolph, who made the All-Star team after the Clippers traded him to Memphis in July. ... This will be the fourth straight year and 14th time since 1990 that the Jazz (32-18) will have at least 30 wins before the All-Star break. There was no All-Star game in 1999 because of the lockout. ... Utah is 10-12 on the road, and will play 19 of its final 31 games away from the Salt Palace. The Jazz haven't had a winning road record since the 2000-01 season, when they were 25-16.