Jazz 97, Spurs 93

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—After learning Carlos Boozer would be out several weeks, Mehmet Okur took over Boozer’s spot on the floor and in the box score.

Okur scored 14 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, including eight in the final minute to lead the Utah Jazz to a 97-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

Utah ended a two-game losing streak, winning for the first time since Boozer banged his knee last week in a game against the Hornets. The Jazz learned earlier Wednesday that Boozer’s injury was more than just a bruise—it’s a hairline fracture just below the knee and could keep him out several weeks.

“It was a must-win game for us, especially without Carlos,” said Okur, who also led Utah with 11 rebounds. “That’s how we’ve got to play night in, night out. Without Boozer, everybody’s got to step up.”

And just about everybody did. Rookie Paul Millsap had 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and seldom-used Rafael Araujo had seven points, five rebounds and frustrated San Antonio’s Tim Duncan with very physical defense.

Araujo also had two steals, including one when he knocked the ball out of Duncan’s hands and started a break for Utah.

“The encouraging thing was that Rafa played well and Millsap keeps getting better every day,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. “That’s a tremendous thing for this franchise.”

The Jazz also pulled down 50 rebounds to San Antonio’s 32 and guaranteed that Utah can do no worse than a season split with the Spurs, who have swept the Jazz five of the last six years.

Millsap played the entire fourth quarter and was crashing to the floor and sprawling for every loose ball that came within range. It was the kind of play Sloan loves to see and Utah will need as Boozer recovers.

Boozer has averaged 22 points and almost 12 rebounds and has 33 double-doubles in 45 games.

“Carlos told me that I’ve got to step my game up,” Millsap said. “I’m going to go out there and do all the little things to help our team win.”

Deron Williams added 14 points and seven assists and Andrei Kirilenko had nine points and eight rebounds for the Jazz.

Duncan had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Tony Parker scored 27 points for the Spurs, who rallied from 12 points down and took two brief leads down the stretch before Okur carried Utah to the win.

“It was just a tough contest. They always come out, they play hard and we know that,” Duncan said. “Memo stepped out and made some big ones over the top.”

Manu Ginobili and Robert Horry scored 10 apiece for the Spurs, who visit Phoenix on Thursday in a big Western Conference showdown.

“We’re making too many mistakes right now,” Duncan said. “We’re giving up too many things in too many different areas.”

San Antonio trailed 71-63 entering the fourth, but Parker scored 14 in the final period and kept the Spurs within range of winning it. Parker’s consecutive 3-pointers tied the game at 81 with 3:19 left and set up the back-and-forth finish.

Bruce Bowen gave San Antonio an 86-85 lead with a 3-pointer, which Williams answered with his own 3 to put Utah back ahead 88-86 with 1:39 remaining. Horry put the Spurs back up with another 3, which Okur tried to answer for the Jazz.

He missed, but was fouled and made all three free throws to put Utah ahead 91-89 with a minute to go. Duncan banked a shot over Okur to tie it again with 40 seconds left, but Okur broke the tie on another 3 with 27 seconds to go.

After Duncan put back a rebound to get the Spurs within 94-93, the Jazz broke San Antonio’s press and got the ball up the court to Okur, who was fouled and made both free throws with 12 seconds to go.

Matt Harpring added a free throw with 7 seconds left to put Utah up by four and avoid the chance of another last-second shot forcing overtime or beating the Jazz.

Notes:@ Araujo scored the most he has scored for the Jazz since they traded for him last summer. … The 50 rebounds tied the most San Antonio allowed this season. The Jazz also pulled down 50 against the Spurs in November.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 San Antonio
T. Duncan T. Duncan
7-13,  25 Pts
12 Rebs, 3 Assists
M. Okur M. Okur
10-14,  31 Pts
11 Rebs, 2 Assists

Team Stat Leaders



Wednesday, Jan 31