SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 10 (AP) -- Andrei Kirilenko
's game is improving rapidly.
The Russian rookie fit well starting alongside veterans Karl Malone
and John Stockton
, scoring 14 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 92-76 exhibition victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
"You know, I'm going up step-by-step and I think I'm grown up now," Kirilenko said. "I feel when I play against the big guys, you know upper-level, against big stars I can go up."
Kirilenko had 12 points in the third quarter, including eight during a 10-4 run over a three-minute span midway through the period as the Jazz extended a 35-31 halftime lead to 54-42.
A 6-foot-9 swingman drafted in the first round two years ago, Kirilenko capped the burst by taking a pass on the left baseline from Stockton, coming off a screen by Malone and, with a quick step toward the lane, throwing down a dunk.
"Karl and John, they help me with my scoring," Kirilenko said. "I like to enjoy playing here. It's an enjoyment for me. I am a young player. I am very glad."
When he went to the bench with 2:11 remaining in the third, Kirilenko received one of the biggest cheers of the night. He also had six rebounds in 20 minutes and shot 5-of-6 from the field.
"There are so many fans here," Kirilenko said. "Everybody says, 'Come on, go Jazz.' You know, it's great. I like it."
Utah put it out of reach in the fourth quarter, when Bryon Russell
scored seven of his 13 points, Donyell Marshall
had eight of his 12 and John Starks
added six of his 10.
led the Blazers with 12 points while Derek Anderson
had 11. Scottie Pippen
didn't dress because of back spasms.
Portland had 16 turnovers, and first-year coach Maurice Cheeks complained that the Blazers played without passion. After losing Tuesday night in Memphis, he wouldn't let them use the excuse of playing on back-to-back nights.
"That was an ugly game," Cheeks said. "We didn't have any emotion tonight. We were dead, no emotion, no life, no nothing. It is discouraging."
In Utah's first exhibition game, a 101-95 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, Kirilenko had seven points and nine rebounds and, according to Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, stood out for his hustle on both ends.
After two seasons playing with his Russian club team, Jazz officials decided last spring Kirilenko was ready for the NBA.
"He has done a terrific job in the short time he's been here," Sloan said. "He likes to play basketball. If that isn't obvious to the people out there, then nothing is. I think that comes out clear as a bell when you watch him."
Kirilenko had a busy summer, making his first league appearance at the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league before heading back overseas to play for Russia at the European championships.
"I'm a little bit tired, but I feel I am in good shape," he said.