Jazz 106, Hornets 86
As short-handed as the Utah Jazz were, they were still better off than the New Orleans Hornets.
The Jazz took advantage of New Orleans' injury-depleted lineup in a 106-86 rout Saturday night that put Utah back within two games of the division lead and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
The Jazz got some help when Boston beat Dallas, and Milwaukee beat Denver, leaving Utah just 1 1/2 games behind the Mavericks and two games behind the Nuggets.
Just as importantly, the Jazz got plenty of rest Saturday night as the reserves took over in the second half.
``We just played well together tonight. We went out there and had fun,'' said Deron Williams, who had 17 points and 11 assists before sitting out the fourth quarter and icing his multiple sore spots.
Paul Millsap had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and C.J. Miles made his first eight shots and scored 19 points for the Jazz, who were without two injured starters and missed Carlos Boozer for much of the game because of foul trouble.
But the Hornets were missing more as they wrapped up a five-game trip with their third straight loss. Chris Paul has been out since he had knee surgery in February. The Hornets also lost forward David West when he was called for a flagrant foul late in the first quarter.
Paul is still the Hornets' leading scorer at 20 points per game and West is second with a 19-point average.
``Those are probably the two best players on their team and it took a lot away from them,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
The Jazz pulled away with a 17-1 run at the end of the second quarter and led by 35 in the second half.
Marcus Thornton led New Orleans with 22 points. Darren Collison added 19 points and six assists and Emeka Okafor had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hornets outscored Utah 29-15 in the fourth quarter and still lost by 20.
It was New Orleans' 10th loss in 12 games.
``They outplayed us and I hate to say it in those words, but that's exactly what happened,'' Collison said. ``Part of it was them and part of it was us.''
The Jazz, blown out the night before at Phoenix, got some much-needed rest in this one. Boozer only played 15:44, scoring 10 points, and Williams played only 30:37 before sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
Every starter for Utah scored in double figures and every reserve who got in the game had at least one field goal. Center Kyrylo Fesenko tied his season high with 11 points, added eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
``We shared the ball well and guys got out and ran,'' Millsap said. ``You need to move the ball around. That's what makes our team what it is. Guys aren't selfish and they make the extra pass.''
The Jazz were without forward Andrei Kirilenko (strained left calf) and Mehmet Okur, who was home with a stomach illness.
The Hornets were without Paul for the 25th straight game as he recovers from knee surgery and also didn't have Peja Stojakovic, abdominal strain. New Orleans lost West when he was called for a flagrant foul as Utah's Kyle Korver drove for an open layup and took a forearm from West across his head with 1:50 left in the first quarter.
That took a big part of our offense away,'' New Orleans coach Jeff Bower said. ``It forced us to look in a lot of other directions and we didn't have a successful answer for that tonight.''
The Jazz capitalized on the Hornets' woes by outscoring them 33-16 in the second quarter. The Jazz closed out the second period on a 17-1 run, scoring the final 12 points while building a 63-38 halftime lead. Fesenko started the final run with a hook shot and rookie Othyus Jeffers made a steal and took it in for a dunk that put the Jazz up 61-38.
Williams added a little entertainment in the third quarter when he took a steal in for a layup while drawing a foul with 2:19 left in the third. Williams stumbled in to the front row of seats and put his arms around two fans while catching his breath in the front row.
NOTES: Utah was still waiting word from the NBA on whether Sloan would be punished for making contact with an official late in Friday night's game at Phoenix. ... The Jazz outscored the Hornets 60-46 in the paint. ... Millsap's 15 rebounds were a season high. ... Aaron Gray had 11 rebounds for the Hornets.