Pacers Flatten Cold-Shooting Jazz
Indiana 84, Jazz 60
SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 29 (Ticker) -- Andrei Kirilenko returned to the lineup but did little to spark the struggling offense of the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz had the second-lowest scoring output in team history in an 84-60 loss to the Indiana Pacers, who got 21 points and 15 rebounds from Jermaine O'Neal.
Kirilenko had missed the previous seven games after suffering an ankle injury in a loss to Chicago on November 12. The Jazz, who also have dealt with injuries to forward Carlos Boozer and guards Keith McLeod and Gordan Giricek, had lost five contests without the 2004 All-Star.
The 6-9 forward did not start but played 24 minutes off the bench but managed just seven points and two rebounds.
"The ankle feels good. It didn't bother me in the game at all," said Kirilenko, who made 3-of-6 shots. "I think I'm a little bit out of game rhythm."
"He's got a long way to go to get back into rhythm, but I thought he was alive," Sloan said. "I thought his energy was pretty good, and hopefully that will get better."
Even with Kirilenko back, Utah shot a dismal 33 percent (23-of-69) and set a Delta Center low in points, two fewer than its 62-point effort against New York two weeks ago and just four more than the team's lowest all-time total of 56 set five years ago in Detroit.
Despite the poor offensive performance, the Jazz remained within striking distance early on as neither team could get anything going. In the first two quarters, the Pacers and Jazz combined for 24 turnovers and 35 percent shooting.
"We still had a chance to be in the ballgame, but we never could get anything going," Sloan said. "Everything we did was slow motion."
The Pacers pulled away in the third quarter, opening the period with an 8-0 run to take a 42-27 lead, eventually building as much as a 29-point advantage.
"We didn't hit shots in the first half and they played good defense and got us out of our (rhythm) and we weren't executing," said Utah rookie point guard Deron Williams, who scored 14 points. "We were still in the game after playing about as bad as you can play, and we came out in the second half and played even worse."
Williams converted a four-point play to draw Utah within 46-36 with just under seven minutes left before Stephen Jackson hit a jumper and 3-pointer to ignite a 17-5 spurt that broke open the game.
Jackson added another basket and O'Neal contributed four points and four rebounds during the burst for the Pacers, who won for the fifth time in six games.
"We definitely had a rough start, but we hung in there and kept playing hard," Pacers forward Ron Artest said. "We just kept playing. We were trying to focus first on defense, and then try to make sure our offense got going and tried to distance ourselves."
While Kirilenko's return is expected to add some much-needed presence and depth to Utah's frontcourt, that wasn't the case Tuesday night as the team got very little contribution from its forwards. Leading scorer Mehmet Okur was held to just eight points while Matt Harpring added just six. The Jazz were outrebounded, 48-38.
"I don't think we executed very well. ... We weren't aggressive enough," Kirilenko said. "They forced us to play outside instead of inside. They played good defense, and we didn't score any points inside. That was the main problem."
Williams scored 12 of Utah's 14 third-quarter points. Aside from his brief scoring burst, he and the rest of the offense was completely neutralized by the Pacers, who held the Jazz to just six second-chance points.
"I knew coming in that I had to attack the boards and cut down any second-chance opportunities for them," O'Neal said. "(The Delta Center) is always a tough atmosphere to play in. We knew we had to come in and play a solid game."
Jamaal Tinsley added 14 points and Fred Jones chipped in nine off the bench for the Pacers, who shot 40.5 percent (30-of-74) but made 9-of-18 3-pointers.