Boozer leads Jazz past Timberwolves

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP)—The Utah Jazz had to keep up with the surprising Minnesota Timberwolves early.

By the second half, the Timberwolves had run out of surprises and energy and Utah coasted to a 122-100 victory Wednesday night.

“We kept getting stops. We kept moving the ball offensively, getting rebounds and running,” said Carlos Boozer(notes), who had 19 points and 11 rebounds for his 45th double-double of the season. “Next thing you know it went from a close game to a not-so close game and the game was over.”

Paul Millsap(notes), who had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Kyle Korver(notes) added a season-high 20 points on his 29th birthday to help the Jazz extend Minnesota’s losing streak to 11. The Timberwolves allowed 152 points in a loss at Phoenix the night before and had little energy left in the second half.

Deron Williams(notes) finished with nine points and 11 assists before joining the other Utah starters on the bench for most of the fourth quarter.

Williams could use the breather. He sprained his left ankle in the first half and played with a bruised left shoulder, which was scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.

Wesley Matthews(notes) strained his left knee and Andrei Kirilenko(notes) left the game early in the second half after re-aggravating his strained left calf.

“Everybody’s a little banged up here and there,” said Boozer, who still has a half-inch gash under his right eye from an elbow he took earlier this month.

Utah coach Jerry Sloan gave his players Thursday off from practice so they could rest a little more for Friday’s game at Phoenix and then Saturday’s home game against New Orleans.

With just 14 games remaining, Utah is two games behind Denver for the Northwest Division lead and Dallas for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

Utah also salvaged a tie in the season series with the lowly Timberwolves, who won the first two meetings—two of Minnesota’s 14 wins.

“At the beginning of the season we let a few games get away from us that shouldn’t have,” Millsap said. “But right now, we see the playoffs coming up so we’ve got to prepare for that.”

In less than 24 hours, the Timberwolves allowed 274 points in losses to the Suns and Jazz.

Al Jefferson(notes) and Corey Brewer(notes) had 17 points apiece to lead Minnesota, which was outrebounded 20-12 in the second half.

“Every team that we are facing is in playoff mode right now so they have a light at the end of the tunnel—something to fight for,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “So our guys are going to have to look within themselves to find that fight.”

Mehmet Okur(notes) had 14 points and Matthews added 10 points for Utah, which opened the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run and coasted the rest of the way.

The Jazz went 14 for 24 in the third quarter, stretching a nine-point halftime lead to 87-73 entering the fourth.

Matthews had a scare with an apparent ankle injury and needed help to the bench with about 9:38 left, but after a time out came back and made both foul shots, then plucked a pass out of the air and took it for a layup to put Utah back up 60-49 with 9:10 left in the third.

Williams got the fans back on their feet later in the period when he drove from outside the 3-point line and powered a one-handed dunk over Jefferson to put Utah up 68-60. Minnesota called time out and Williams’ teammates on the Jazz bench were chuckling over what the 6-foot-3 Jazz guard did to the 6-10 Jefferson.

“They did a good job attacking us. We turned the ball over and they took advantage of it,” Jefferson said. “You can’t give it away against a team like Utah, especially at home.”

Price and Matthews added to the highlights in the fourth quarter on a fast break. Price passed it to Matthews, who sent it right back to Price for a two-handed dunk that put Utah up 99-75 with 9:03 left.

NOTES: All 12 Utah players who dressed scored at least a point. … Korver’s previous high for the season was 19 against Denver on Jan. 17. … Wayne Ellington(notes) scored 13 points for Minnesota.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Minnesota
A. Jefferson Al Jefferson
7-13,  17 Pts
8 Rebs, 4 Assists
 Utah
C. Boozer Carlos Boozer
8-11,  19 Pts
11 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
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Wednesday, Mar 17