The Utah Jazz have come alive, winning 11 of their last 12 games and seven straight, and playing like a legitimate championship contender for the first time in recent memory.

A huge reason why has been the play of Andrei Kirilenko, who has moved into the starting lineup.

In his last five games, AK-47 is averaging 18.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.6 apg, 2.0 spg and 2.6 bpg.

Tim Buckley of the Deseret News reports:

Utah beat Portland 118-105 on Wednesday night at sold-out EnergySolutions Arena, doing so behind a season-high 28 points from center Mehmet Okur and a collective season-high 62.7 percent shooting from the field aided by Okur’s 10-for-13.

It was the seventh straight win and 11th in their last 12 games for the 30-18 Jazz, who also got 22 points and a season-high eight assists from Kirilenko, a 13-point and 13-assist double-double from Williams and 16 points off the bench including 6-for-6 field shooting from rookie Wesley Matthews.

Meanwhile, Carlos Boozer has been out. Yet the team is winning.

More from the Deseret News:

He said he felt “a little too tight, a little too sore” to play in Wednesday’s win over Portland.

But Carlos Boozer, injured one week earlier at Portland, continues to eye Saturday’s home game against Denver for a return from his moderately strained and slightly torn right calf muscle injury. “I’m feeling good. Feeling good,” the Jazz’s usual starting power forward said Wednesday. “I’m working out, getting better.

“There’s still a little tightness in it,” Boozer added, “but it’s gotten a lot stronger in the last couple days. It’s still on course.”

Aside from AK-47’s play, Paul Millsap has been terrific in Boozer’s absence.

Ross Siler of the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

 Although  Paul Millsap  has opened eyes with his play in the past week while  Carlos Boozer has been out with a strained right calf, his teammates insist that nothing about Millsap’s improved game has come as a surprise to them.

“I saw that this summer, just given the chance, given the time,” Deron Williams said. “I’ve been a fan of Paul Millsap all along so I’ve always been one of his supporters. He’s just getting the chance to show what he can do right now while Booz is out.”

For now, the Jazz are worth taking very seriously out West.