Okur, Jazz Hold On Against Sonics
Utah 93, Seattle 87
SEATTLE, Nov. 22 (Ticker) -- Still without a host of key players, the Utah Jazz appear to have moved past a difficult slide.
Mehmet Okur scored 24 points and made all three of his 3-pointers, including a big one down the stretch, as the Jazz held on for a 93-87 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Both are still recovering, and forward Matt Harpring sat Tuesday to rest his ailing right knee. Meanwhile, standout power forward Carlos Boozer has yet to play this season due to a hamstring injury.
The Jazz have won two in a row since the five-game skid, during which they were outscored by an average of 13.6 points. On Tuesday, they made enough plays in the fourth quarter to survive a late charge by the SuperSonics.
"We didn't do a great job (down the stretch)," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "But we played unselfishly, we moved the basketball and Memo (Okur) made a really tough shot. We got a couple of rebounds and got fouled and made a couple of free throws."
Utah carried a 51-38 lead into the third quarter and took its largest lead, 82-66, on a long jumper by Okur with 7:03 remaining.
Rashard Lewis, who led Seattle with 26 points, scored eight in a 13-4 surge that cut the deficit to 86-83. But Okur drained a 3-pointer to push the Jazz's lead to six points with 1:25 left.
Okur's shot capped his seventh performance of 20 points or better this season.
"Okur showed up in great shape this year and this has given him confidence," Sloan said. "He has gotten off to a great start and he adds a lot to our team because he can make shots."
A 6-11 forward, Okur knows the offensive burden cannot fall entirely on his shoulders in the wake of Utah's injuries.
"I'm feeling good out there, but everybody has to step up," Okur said. "We have great players on this team and the bench made a big difference for us tonight. They brought energy for us."
The Jazz reserves outscored the Sonics' bench 36-20.
"To weather fourth-quarter runs like that really builds character," Utah reserve guard Devin Brown said. "To win back-to-back games sends everybody's confidence through the roof. Home teams are always going to make that run at you and when you are at home you never feel like you are out of a game."
Lewis had a layup and Ray Allen made two free throws with 45 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 89-87. However, Utah got a pair of offensive rebounds on the other end and Nick Collison fouled Jazz center Jarron Collins in the fight for the second, sending him to the line for two shots.
Allen missed a 3-pointer on the other end and Brown made two free throws in the closing seconds to seal Utah's fourth road win of the season.
Gordan Giricek, playing his fourth game since returning from tonsillitis, scored 17 points and Brown had a season-high 14 off the bench for the Jazz.
"I think we lost tonight by disrespecting our opponents," Sonics coach Bob Weiss said. "We came out tonight and expected to come away with it, and we were trying to get up by 20 in the first two minutes. We had a chance to win at the end but we dug too big a hole for ourselves."
Allen had made 13-of-27 3-pointers during Seattle's winning streak but was just 2-of-10 from behind the arc Tuesday and finished with 23 points. Aside from Lewis and Allen, no Sonic had more than three baskets.
"Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are tough to play against, but our big guys helped us," Sloan said. "Fortunately they didn't make too many of their outside shots."
Seattle scored just 14 points in the first quarter and shot 13-of-35 (37 percent) in the opening half.
"I think we disrupted ourselves on offense," Lewis said. "We weren't going through the cuts hard, we weren't setting picks and we didn't pass the ball around. We're still a good team, but we just didn't come to play tonight."