Kirilenko Rescues Jazz In Win Over Magic
Utah 90, Orlando 85
SALT LAKE CITY, March 6 (Ticker) -- Mehmet Okur put the Orlando Magic on the ropes early, but the Utah Jazz needed Andrei Kirilenko to deliver the knockout blow late.
Kirilenko made six clutch free throws in the final 65 seconds and came up with a huge block on Jameer Nelson with seven ticks remaining as the Jazz escaped with a 90-85 victory over the Orlando Magic, who lost their 13th straight road game.
"I'm trying to do my job out there," Okur said. "We just try to execute. Whoever is wide open is going to take the shot. My teammates did a great job, they found me in the right position at the right time. I started the game with a few shots and I felt good."
Utah maintained a 47-37 advantage at the half and appeared to be in control after Kirilenko capped a 15-3 run with a layup that made it 75-55 with just over two minutes left in the third period.
However, Utah went cold in the final quarter, allowing Orlando to come all the way back.
Rookie Deron Williams made a layup with 11:18 to play that gave Utah an 80-65 edge, but that was the last basket for the Jazz.
Orlando went on a 16-1 run over the next seven-plus minutes, forging an 81-81 tie on Nelson's jumper with 3:22 on the clock. The Jazz missed 12 shots during that stretch and were 1-of-6 from the line.
"We just stopped executing," said Williams, who scored 15 points. "We just quit there in the fourth quarter and didn't finish out the ballgame."
"I don't know what happened," Okur said. "I think we lost our concentration out there, especially in the fourth quarter."
Okur and Kirilenko each made a pair of free throws for an 85-81 lead with 1:05 remaining before former member of the Jazz DeShawn Stevenson hit a jumper with 52 seconds to go.
Nelson stole a bad pass from Milt Palacio and converted a layup to tie it, but Stevenson was called for a foul off the ball, and Kirilenko hit the ensuing free throws to put Utah in front for good with 18 seconds remaining.
Nelson had a chance to tie it when he used a screen from Dwight Howard and seemed to have a clear path to the basket. But Kirilenko came from the weak side to get a piece of the layup, corralled the loose ball and made two more from the line to seal the victory.
"I just saw the gap on the baseline and Jameer drove the baseline and I saw that nobody could help," Kirilenko said. "He was kind of open, so I just made a couple of steps and jumped. It was a good floater, so it was hard for me to block it. I just caught it at the right time."
"Andrei and I got to the free-throw line and he had a great block," Okur said. "We knew he was going to come (through) for us and get behind us. He got our back tonight."
On the next possession, Stevenson heaved a 3-pointer and tried to draw a foul with three seconds remaining. As he took the shot, he leaned into Kirilenko, but the lanky 6-9 forward once again got a piece of the ball for his sixth block. Stevenson and Magic coach Brian Hill were upset that no foul was called on the play.
"You can look at it on film, but I'm not going to speak on it," Stevenson said.
"I don't think it's a big need to complain. He tried to create the contact, not me," Kirilenko said. "He tried to find the contact, so I think the referees did a good job because they could have called an offensive foul."
Kirilenko had 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists and for the Jazz, who were 1-of-14 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Howard collected 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic, who have not won on the road since January 26 at Philadelphia.
"I think we stayed hungry," Magic guard Carlos Arroyo said. "But ... we can't put ourselves in a position to be down 20 (points) to be able to start playing basketball."