SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 31 (Ticker) --
The Utah Jazz survived another
offensive blitz by Allen Iverson
and Chris Webber
for a rare
three-game winning streak.
scored a season-high 23 points and Andrei Kirilenko
scored five of his 15 in the closing moments as the
Jazz rallied for a 108-102 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers,
who fell to 1-3 on a season-high seven-game road trip.
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Utah finished the game on a 17-5 run and outscored the 76ers,
10-1, in the final 45 seconds to post its first three-game run
since February 27-March 2. To do so, it had to curb stellar
efforts by Iverson and Webber, who combined for 58 points
overall and 31 in the second half.
"We just made a lot of bad mistakes at the end and they
capitalized off of them," Iverson said. "We just didn't finish
the game out. We've been having that problem all season, and it
just happened again tonight."
Iverson had two steals, an assist to Webber and a layup to spark
a 6-0 run and give the Sixers a 97-91 lead with 3:43 left.
Giricek sandwiched a free throw and a layup around Webber's
jumper to pull the Jazz within 99-94, and Kirilenko added a pair
from the line to make it a three-point game with 2:16 to go.
and Webber exchanged baskets before Mehmet Okur
buried a 3-pointer to tie it at 101-101 with 45 seconds
"I was wide open, and I just took the shot. It felt good," Okur
Iverson, who finished with 37 points but made just 2-of-4 free
throws down the stretch, split a pair from the line on the other
end to give Philadelphia its last lead. Kirilenko then blew
past Sixers rookie Shavlik Randolph
for a basket and a foul,
making the free throw with 18 seconds left for a 104-102 edge.
After forcing two point guards - rookie Deron Williams
McLeod - to foul out earlier in the period, Iverson attacked
, who blocked the superstar's shot. Okur corralled
the rebound and was fouled before making two free throws.
"I think those free throws were more important than (Okur's
3-pointer)," Kirilenko said. "You know, it's big pressure on a
player when you need to make two free shots."
Kirilenko added a pair with one second left for the final margin
as Utah defeated Philadelphia for the seventh time in nine
Okur had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Kirilenko had 15, 12, six
assists and four blocks, including one that led to a fast-break
layup by Giricek that forged a 91-91 tie.
Philadelphia answered with its 6-0 run to take command, but went
cold thereafter as the Jazz held the Sixers to just two field
goals the rest of the way.
"We had some shots that we didn't make, they made some
incredible shots, but we played well enough to win,"
Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks
said. "We played well enough
to win the game, and we should have won the game. Circumstances
kept us from winning it."
After playing poorly in the first half, the Sixers came out
strong after the break, erasing a seven-point halftime deficit
with a 22-6 run to open the third quarter, during which Jazz
head coach Jerry Sloan
was ejected for twice arguing the
persistent fouls called on his point guards.
Without Sloan, Utah answered with a 9-0 run to tie it at 70-70.
"They just kept playing. They fed off their crowd," Iverson
said. "It's tough to win in here. It's hard to come in here
and get a win."
added 18 points and Kyle Korver
11 for the
Sixers, who shot 53 percent (37-of-70) and made 5-of-9
3-pointers. However, they also turned over the ball 18 times
for the second game in a row, leading to 22 points for the Jazz.
"That's not in our makeup, this squad usually takes care of the
ball. Obviously, we feel like we're going to struggle if we
turn it over that much," Iverson said. "Shooting a high
percentage like we did, it's tough to lose this game because we
knew we got outrebounded and didn't play good defense."
The Jazz, who dropped all three games Kirilenko missed with a
sprained ankle, have put together their winning streak since he
returned to the lineup. They now can turn their attention to
getting back to the .500 mark for the first time since November
14, when they were 4-4.
"Definitely we go into the new year with good emotion,"
Kirilenko said. "We've got two more games until 50 percent
(.500), so we need two wins and we're very, let's say, impatient
to get to .500."