SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—It was only appropriate that the Utah Jazz won on a rebound.
Carlos Boozer turned his 20th rebound into the tiebreaking basket with 17 seconds left, and Utah beat the Golden State Warriors 116-112 on Monday night in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.
Utah outrebounded the Warriors 54-36, pulling down 20 on offense to overcome the Warriors’ frantic attack while rallying to win at the end.
“We’ve always been a pretty good offensive rebounding team if we take decent shots and get our big people inside on the shots,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. “It certainly worked that way tonight.”
Boozer had 17 points to go with his 20 rebounds, Deron Williams finished with 31 points and eight assists and Andrei Kirilenko blocked seven shots for the Jazz, who will host Game 2 on Wednesday night.
The Jazz were playing just two nights after beating Houston in Game 7 of the first round and had enough stamina to outlast the Warriors.
“We just played hard,” Williams said. “We didn’t play our best game by any means.”
That was true of both teams, although nobody was complaining after the thrilling finish.
The game was tied at 112 when Mehmet Okur tried a 3-pointer from the corner for Utah. It bounced off the rim and right to Boozer, who banked it in to break the 20th tie of the game.
Stephen Jackson tried to put the Warriors back ahead with a 3-pointer, but it was short and Matt Harpring ended up with the rebound after a scrum in the lane. Harpring made both foul shots and the Warriors didn’t have time to make up the deficit.
“We can play better than we played tonight but we didn’t play poorly, that’s for sure,” Golden State coach Don Nelson said. “The Jazz won the game. It was a good win for them and we’ll have to go back to the blackboard and reassess what we need to do.”
Okur had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Utah, which is in the second round for the first time since 2000.
“We fought a lot over the last series, showed we can fight and stay with anyone in this league,” Williams said. “We showed a lot of composure, down 2-0 last series and got over that.”
Al Harrington also scored 21—15 more points than the rest of the Warriors’ reserves.
“If you watch Utah, they run the lanes well. They cross well. Utah plays fast,” said Jackson, who finished with 16 points. “We took them out of a lot of their stuff, but they made adjustments.”
Golden State led at halftime and the end of the third quarter, but was 8-for-20 in the fourth quarter and couldn’t hold off the Jazz.
Utah played without guard Derek Fisher, who was excused from the game because of a health problem with one of his children. The Jazz won without their most experienced player, who was traded to Utah from the Warriors last summer.
“Hopefully we’ll have him back. He’s a big part of this team,” Harping said.
Williams and rookie Dee Brown handled the backcourt and Williams carried the Jazz despite getting his fifth foul with about 6 minutes left. Williams sat for a few minutes, then converted a three-point play that put Utah up 112-110.
Richardson tied it again for the final time on two free throws after grabbing a turnover and getting fouled by Kirilenko under the basket with 33 seconds left.
Kirilenko finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists and flustered the Warriors with his gangly arms blocking shot after shot.
After Williams had just put Utah up 108-107 with a 21-foot jumper, Jackson tried to get the lead back for Golden State with a layup but couldn’t get it over Kirilenko’s long reach.
Andris Biedrins couldn’t put back the rebound as Jackson furiously picked himself off the floor, pumping his fist toward the official who did not call a foul on the play.
It unraveled Jackson, but not his teammates. Matt Barnes made a free throw to get Golden State within 109-108, then scored on a layup that put the Warriors ahead for the last time with 1:24 left in the game.
Williams answered with a layup while drawing a foul by Jackson and made the free throw to put the Jazz up 112-110.
Williams outscored Davis and had one more assist, but Sloan downplayed the point-guard matchup.
“First of all we’re not trying to beat Baron Davis. We’re trying to beat the Golden State Warriors,” Sloan said. “That’s what we told all of our players. If we’re going out there to try to beat an individual, then we might as well just forget about that.”
Davis scored 17 in the second quarter after going scoreless in the first. … Both teams were 4-for-7 from 3-point range in the first quarter. … Williams and Harpring both had career highs for scoring in a playoff game. … Richardson and Barnes had 10 rebounds apiece for Golden State.