SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller couldn’t complain about this one.
Just days after berating his team in the locker room, Miller witnessed one of Utah’s best performances of the season in a 100-82 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
The Jazz were just one assist away from having four players with double-doubles and every Utah starter outscored Minnesota star Kevin Garnett.
“This is one of the best times we have played as a team all year, especially against a good team like them,” said Carlos Boozer, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz after getting some of the harshest criticism from Miller.
Miller publicly questioned the toughness of Boozer, who signed a $68 million deal with the Jazz during he summer and had been slumping lately. Boozer and Miller met Thursday and resolved any hard feelings.
“I just wanted to go out and get back on track. I have been a little bit of a tough spell these last few games,” Boozer said. “I just wanted to pick it back up and try to get back to the level of play that I usually am.”
Raja Bell scored 18 points, giving every Utah starter more than Garnett’s 12 points.
“Offensively, we were OK, but in the second half they start to get dunks and second-chance points. You can’t win like that on the road,” Garnett said.
The Jazz, 1-5 in their previous six games, pulled away in the third quarter with an 18-1 run and held off any chance at a Timberwolves’ comeback by shutting down Garnett. Utah also outrebounded Minnesota 47-32, holding a 17-4 advantage on the offensive glass.
“They crashed the boards like madmen tonight,” Garnett said. “Kirilenko was very, very active. if he didn’t get it, Boozer or Okur got it.”
On the day the Jazz announced Karl Malone’s retirement will become official on Sunday, Utah had something to celebrate in what has been a disappointing season.
“I think tonight we did a great job helping each other. That’s very important,” said Kirilenko, who also had three blocks and steals and four assists. “When we’re helping each other, you see the difference. We’re just energetic on the floor and start to dominate.”
Bell said Miller encouraged his players before the game, four days after a locker room tirade when the Jazz lost in overtime to the Knicks.
“I don’t really think that anybody believed he had really given up on us. I think we knew he was just venting his frustrations,” Bell said. “It kind of loosens you up a little bit to know that he’s on your side.”
Latrell Sprewell led Minnesota with, 16 points and Troy Hudson added 15 points and five assists off the bench for Minnesota, which had just gotten back to .500 by snapping a six-game losing streak Wednesday night at home against Denver.
It was a short stay, thanks in part to 21 turnovers Friday.
The Timberwolves led 41-37 at halftime, but crumbled in the third quarter as the Jazz went 13-for-23 from the field. Bell started a 14-0 run with four straight free throws. Kirilenko added a 3-pointer to put the Jazz up 50-47, then Boozer pulled down an offensive rebound on a missed free throw and spun around for a layup. Boozer added a dunk after Kirilenko swatted away a shot by Hudson to keep the run going.
Minnesota called a 20-second timeout, but it did no good. The Jazz got the ball back and got it down low to Kirilenko, who threw the ball behind his head before slamming it in with both hands for a 61-48 lead.
“You have to say that this was one of our better outings altogether,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.
Minnesota got within seven with six straight points to open the fourth quarter, but Kirilenko had an alley-oop and converted a three-point play after making a steal and keeping the Jazz in command.
Minnesota guard Sam Cassell (hamstring) was not with the team Friday night. … The Jazz went on 14-4 run in first quarter and led 27-20 on Bell’s 3-pointer with about 6 seconds remaining. … Utah was 25-for-43 from the field in the second half.