03-08-2007, 03:06 PM
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Jazz Silence Pacers, Notch Fifth Straight Win
Utah 94, Indiana 72 (F)
SALT LAKE CITY, March 7 (AP)-- The Utah Jazz already have one more win than they did all of last season and there's still more than a month left to play.
Reaching 42 wins in March - or at any point in the season - isn't much of an accomplishment for Utah coach Jerry Sloan. So after the Jazz beat the slumping Indiana Pacers 94-72 Wednesday, Sloan was unimpressed.
"You're looking at the score. I'm looking at the game,'' Sloan said.
The Pacers were playing for the fourth time in five nights and lost leading scorer Jermaine O'Neal early in the third quarter. Yet they still cut a 16-point lead down to six entering the final period before the Jazz took control.
"Their energy level should have been down below us and they held in there pretty good considering what they had to fight through,'' Sloan said.
The Jazz finally wore down the Pacers, who lost their seventh straight game and went winless on a four-game road trip.
Carlos Boozer had 14 points and 16 rebounds, Deron Williams added 17 points and six assists and Matt Harpring scored 14 points for the Jazz, who put away the Pacers with a 16-4 run to open the fourth quarter.
"It wasn't our best game. We were a little sloppy, but the good thing about it is we don't get rattled anymore,'' Boozer said.
Utah improved to 42-19, topping last season's win total by one and ensuring that the Jazz will finish with a winning record for the first time since 2004. Utah has won 13 of 15 and is closing in on the Northwest Division title.
Danny Granger had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Pacers. Troy Murphy scored 15 points, but the Pacers' starting center pulled down just three boards as Utah won the rebounding battle 47-35.
"I thought we did a good job of hanging in there for three quarters, but in the fourth we just couldn't keep it together,'' Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's unfortunate. We needed a win very badly.''
O'Neal left in the third quarter with a sore left knee and didn't return. He finished with 11 points.
"I came into the game with it pretty swollen and didn't really have the lift I normally have and couldn't really do the things I was comfortable doing,'' O'Neal said. "I noticed it getting bigger and bigger throughout the quarter so we just decided it was better for me not to play.''
Darrell Armstrong also scored 12 for Indiana, which never led and fell to 5-9 this season in the second of back-to-back games. Indiana lost at Sacramento 102-98 Tuesday and had little energy left at the end.
Surprisingly, the Pacers made their biggest threat after O'Neal left the game. Indiana got Utah's 16-point lead within single digits a few times early in the third, then made a run at the end to cut the margin to 67-61 entering the fourth.
After Derek Fisher beat the shot clock for Utah with a jumper that put the Jazz up 67-54 with 3:37 left in the period, the Jazz didn't score again in the quarter.
Granger made two free throws, Armstrong added a 19-footer and Murphy hit a 3-pointer to get the Pacers back within range.
But Williams opened the fourth quarter with a layup, then dribbled behind his back when Granger went for a steal and flew by as Williams stepped to his left and found Harpring for another layup that put the Jazz ahead 71-61.
The Jazz scored 16 of the first 20 points in the period.
"You don't throw out the kitchen sink because things don't happen to be working for a short period of time,'' Fisher said.
Notes: The Pacers didn't score in the second quarter until Armstrong's 3-pointer with 8:24 left and were just 6-for-21 in the period. ... Utah outscored Indiana 27-11 in the fourth quarter, playing much of it with reserves. ... Fisher scored 11 for Utah and Andrei Kirilenko had nine points and four assists one day after the birth of his second son.
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