Kirilenko’s Triple-Double Leads Jazz
Utah 111, Toronto 98
SALT LAKE CITY, Jan. 17 (Ticker) -- Andrei Kirilenko usually does a little bit of everything for the Utah Jazz. He did quite a bit extra against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.
Kirilenko recorded his first career triple-double with 18 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists as the Jazz halted a two-game slide by rolling past the Raptors, 111-98.
Kirilenko, who matched his career best in rebounds and set a career high in assists, became the first Jazz player to accomplish the feat since John Stockton did so in an April 28, 2001 playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks. The team's last regular season triple-double was on May 4, 1999, when Karl Malone pulled it off against the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I like it, I like doing everything because America is a stats country. Every stat counts," Kirilenko said. "I like it, I'm happy with it, but I'm more happy we won the game. I like to see big digits and stats, but we won the game and I like that much more."
"Andrei was terrific. He was all over the place. He was terrific defensively, he shot the ball well and did a terrific job passing the ball," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "I never took him out the second half. Usually I take him out, but he was so alive tonight I didn't take him out at all."
Utah held a 101-87 advantage with 3:44 left when Kirilenko - who had two previous efforts for his 10th assist thwarted - found Devin Brown for a layup. The Russian celebrated with a fist pump while sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy.
"All fourth quarter, the whole bench was screaming, 'Andrei, you need two more, one more!" Kirilenko said. "I tried two or three times, Matt (Harpring) missed a couple times and one time I lost the ball, but I finally got the pass to Devin, he scored and everybody was happy."
"He told me as soon as he passed it to me, he yelled at me to shoot it," Brown said. "I had to shoot it regardless because I know he was up there stat-watching."
Brown was the recipient of Kirilenko's ninth and 10th assists, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
Brown has seen his minutes dwindle in recent games, and it was revealed after Tuesday's game that he and Sloan had a minor dispute during the team's shootaround session regarding the fourth-year guard's recent play.
"There was an altercation at the shootaround. I'm not going to go into details about it, but I'll just say that both sides are happy," Brown said. "I came out with a chip on my shoulder tonight because when someone's questioning your integrity and your passion for the game, you just want to come out and prove yourself."
"We talked. That's all I'll say about it. We had a little disagreement," Sloan said. "I questioned him a little bit, if he was gonna work hard. If you don't play hard and I take you out of the ballgame, that should be enough to explain to you that you ought to play harder the next time."
The Jazz got off to a flying start thanks to 11 points from Okur in the opening session. His layup with 4:37 left gave Utah the lead for good, 15-14.
Matt Bonner, who scored all 12 of his points on 5-of-5 first-half shooting, got the Raptors within 38-36 at the 6:28 mark, but Okur helped the Jazz take a 54-47 lead into the break.
Rookie Joey Graham connected on a jumper 1:08 into the third period to cut Toronto's deficit to 56-51. However, Kirilenko scored 10 points and Okur added nine to lead a 27-13 burst the rest of the quarter to give the Jazz an 87-72 bulge, and they never were threatened thereafter.
"That was huge for us," Okur said. "Everybody was looking for each other. We played unselfish basketball."
"I think we played pretty good defense. We ran the floor and executed our offense," Kirilenko said. "We got a 20-point lead and that let us play with a little more freedom."
Chris Bosh finished with 27 points for the Raptors, who began a five-game West Coast road trip in disappointing fashion.
"Hopefully we learned something from (the loss)," Toronto coach coach Sam Mitchell said. "We don't have a choice (but to bounce back) since we play tomorrow night. That's just the nature of the NBA...But you can't say anything about Utah except that they just executed and outplayed us."