Kirilenko, Williams Help Jazz Find Rhythm
Utah 96, Minnesota 93
SALT LAKE CITY, March 8 (Ticker) -- Andrei Kirilenko had little trouble filling up the box score.
Kirilenko collected 15 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and eight blocked shots to lead the Utah Jazz to a 96-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The lanky and athletic 6-foot-9-inch Kirilenko made one of the key plays during a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter that put the Jazz in front for good.
"We had a day off yesterday and I think everybody had a good day off and was ready for the game," Kirilenko said. "For the most part I'm excited, especially to win the game."
"He's a one-man wrecking crew. We spent the whole night trying to figure out the offensive sets around where he was on the play," Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said. "He's a great player. He's one of the guys you have to think about for Defensive Player of the Year."
Harpring, who scored eight points in the fourth quarter, made two free throws at the 7:40 mark to cap the surge.
The Timberwolves closed to 91-90 with 43 seconds left on a shot in the lane by superstar Kevin Garnett, who had 26 points and 13 rebounds. However, Minnesota was unable to come all the way back.
Davis drilled a 3-pointer before Williams split a pair of free throws with 6.2 seconds left for a 96-93 lead.
"We've got to do a better job finishing the ballgame," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We don't want to leave anybody open on a 3-point shot."
Without a timeout, the Wolves rushed upcourt and Trenton Hassell threw up off-balance airball as time expired.
"Any close game is a tough game," Garnett said. "We lost to Houston last night and came in here with a little bit of an edge on us. I think we showed that a little bit. We came out with decent energy; the second half, we just didn't play well."
Boozer scored 12 points and Milt Palacio 11 for Utah (30-31), which remained two games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
Starting a critical six-game road trip, Minnesota (26-34) fell five games behind Los Angeles.
"This (road trip) is one of the last chances for us to get in the playoff race," Jaric said. "We need to wake up as soon as possible."
Despite shooting 58 percent (18-of-31) in the first half, the Timberwolves managed just a 50-49 lead at the break. But the Timberwolves went scoreless for over five minutes to start the third quarter.
"The third quarter has been our Achilles heel pretty much the whole year," Garnett said.
Williams scored 13 points in the third quarter that ended with the Jazz holding a 70-68 lead.
"We definitely wanted to be aggressive and get out and run," said Williams, who took a season-high 20 shots, making nine. "We needed to get out and run more and get some easy baskets; that frees different things up."
The Jazz have put together wins for the first time since early February. Following Monday's win over Orlando in which they squandered a 20-point lead, the Jazz felt the wrath of owner Larry Miller.
"It's not our job to discuss coaching positions, owners, what he thinks about coach (Sloan)," Kirilenko said. "Our job is to go on the floor and play the game, and if it's possible, bring a win."
Jaric scored 20 points and improving rookie Rashad McCants 16
for the Timberwolves, who shot 51 percent (34-of-67).