SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—Utah lost a starter, blew a huge lead and rallied to keep the best home record in the NBA.
The Jazz scored 16 straight points late in the fourth quarter in a 116-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night, coming back after blowing a 21-point lead.
Utah made all 18 free throws in the fourth quarter and stayed near the top of the congested standings in the Western Conference.
“Everybody right know is fighting for their lives and fighting for a playoff spot. It was a fun game to be a part of,” said Deron Williams, who had 20 assists and 17 points for the Jazz. “I wish we would have held on to that lead. We let that slip away. We knew they were going to make a run, but we should have put them away a little earlier.”
Utah played most of the game without forward Andrei Kirilenko, who was knocked out of the game with 7:04 left in the first quarter after taking a flagrant foul from Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki. Kirilenko went crashing to the floor and bruised his right hip bad enough that he was taken to the hospital for X-rays, which showed no break.
The play angered Jazz fans, who shouted that Nowitzki should be ejected and booed him loudly every time he touched the ball. They also relished it when Boozer stripped the ball from Nowitzki two times in a row down the stretch.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” Boozer said. “You had people diving for loose balls, scrapping for rebounds. That’s what the playoffs are about. That’s what the last 20 games are going to be like as we try to position ourselves for the playoffs.”
Kidd finished with 19 points and nine assists, and Jason Terry scored 21 for the Mavericks.
Dallas held Utah scoreless for almost five minutes early in the fourth quarter and opened the period on an 11-2 run to take its first lead of the game. Then the Mavericks went on their own scoring drought.
“We found a way to get back in the game and take the lead, but again, we’re just not able to close games like we should,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said.
After Kidd’s 23-footer with 6:29 put Dallas up 92-89, Dallas didn’t score again until Nowitzki’s three-point play with 2:42 left. Utah scored 16 straight points, mostly from the foul line, and pulled far enough ahead that late 3-pointers by Nowitzki and Kidd weren’t enough to lead the Mavericks back.
“It was anybody’s ballgame there. We had a couple turnovers down the stretch, then missed some shots,” Kidd said. “They scored. We didn’t.”
The Mavericks were coming off a 108-104 loss to the Lakers on Sunday in Los Angeles and started slowly. Dallas also finished slowly and lost for the third time in four games.
Utah had gone 4:59 without a point when Boozer broke the drought with a layup, which started the 16-0 run. Boozer followed that with two free throws, Okur made two from the line and Williams pulled back on a break opportunity and passed to Kyle Korver for a 3-pointer that put Utah up 98-92 with 4:43 left. That had the fans back on their feet and the Jazz continued to pull away from there.
Korver finished with 17 points, three more than all of Dallas’ reserves combined.
Kirilenko was injured he went up for a layup and Nowitzki came down hard with his right arm, catching Kirilenko on the shoulder and neck.
Nowitzki said he didn’t want to give Kirilenko a three-point play opportunity.
“I kind of tried to grab him, and unfortunately grabbed him around the neck,” Nowitzki said. “Things went so fast, I didn’t mean to grab the neck, but I just tried to hold him so he doesn’t score. I happened to grab his neck and it was a bad fall.”
Kirilenko was down for several minutes. He finally got up and walked gingerly to the free throw line, where he made both foul shots before being helped to the locker room.
Notes:@ Williams’ 14 assists in the first half were one short of John Stockton’s team record for a half. … Dallas was tied for Utah with the best home record entering the game. … Devean George scored 12 for Dallas, the only Mavericks reserve to score more than two. … The Jazz said Kirilenko is day to day.