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Jazz and Bobcats Meet in Charlotte
Posted Dec 22 2006 5:53PM
Even if they fall behind, the Utah Jazz are gaining confidence they can come back from any deficit.
The Jazz continue a five-game road trip when they visit the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.
Twice in the last month, Utah (19-7) has rebounded from a 21-point deficit in the second half of a game. The Jazz trailed Sacramento by that margin in the third quarter on Nov. 22 before rallying for a 110-101 win.
They were down 21 to Atlanta going into the fourth quarter Wednesday, but outscored the Hawks 40-13 to win 112-106 and improve to 2-1 on the road trip. Utah had lost four of its six previous road games, but shot 78.5 percent (11-for-14) in the final quarter while making 15-of-22 free-throw attempts.
``This was a huge win for us,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. ``Anytime you win on the road, it's a big win, but to come back from this large of a deficit, that makes it feel even better.''
Utah shot a season-high 55.7 percent from the field and improved to 18-2 when scoring at least 100 points. Mehmet Okur scored a season-high 30 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and knocked down two 3-pointers in the final two minutes to seal the victory for the Jazz.
The win put Utah 3 1/2 games ahead of Denver in the Northwest Division. The Jazz have led the division since the start of the season, but face renewed competition from the Nuggets, who acquired Allen Iverson from Philadelphia on Tuesday.
``We're not going anywhere,'' Okur said. ``We're still one of the best teams in the league right now and we play harder and harder every game, night in night out. We have to play good defense and help each other and execute. I think we'll be fine this year if we do those things.''
The Jazz end their trip with a matchup against Memphis on Saturday.
The Bobcats (6-18) return home following a bitter 111-109 loss to New York in double overtime on Wednesday night. The Knicks scored on a tip-in with 0.1 seconds remaining to beat Charlotte. On Monday, New York defeated Utah 97-96 on a last-second layup in overtime.
``When you're a team like we are, things tend to happen the wrong way for us,'' Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace said. ``Their luck tonight, our bad luck.''
The Bobcats have lost six of their last seven games and now come home to Charlotte Bobcats Arena, where they've lost four of their last five.
Charlotte blew a 19-point lead in Wednesday's game and was fooled on the final play, when Jamal Crawford threw an inbounds pass over Wallace that allowed David Lee to guide the ball into the hoop.
``On that shot, that was the only way it could happen,'' Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. ``You slap the ball. When he faked up, we turned our head and we didn't get in between him and the basket. We had a leaper in the back and we had a big guy on the ball. The play was perfectly executed.''
Charlotte is 1-8 against Western Conference teams this season. The Jazz and Bobcats have split four all-time meetings, with each team winning twice on the road.
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