Utah 104, Indiana 94
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 17 (AP) -- Utah's best defensive performance of the season gave the Jazz their first victory over Indiana in four years.
Carlos Boozer scored 18 points and Mehmet Okur added 17 to help the Jazz start a five-game trip with a 104-94 victory Sunday. Utah held the Pacers to 36.5 percent shooting, and the presence of shot-blocker Andrei Kirilenko under the basket forced Indiana to rely on its outside shooting with little result.
"We helped each other,'' Boozer said of the defense against the Pacers. "We made them take jump shots. Anytime you have the whole team aware on defense, you're going to do a good job.''
The Pacers, who had beaten Utah seven straight times over the past four years, rallied from 21 points down in the third quarter and pulled to 100-94 on a basket by Jamaal Tinsley with 24 seconds remaining. Rookie Dee Brown then hit four of six free throws in the closing seconds to finish the scoring for the Jazz.
"We just got a little more aggressive,'' Boozer said. "In the second half, we were a lot more efficient offensively. We executed our offense really well, and we did a better job defensively as well.''
Kirilenko had seven points, six rebounds and six blocked shots.
The worst shooting by a Utah opponent before this game was 38.1 percent by Milwaukee two weeks ago.
"This is probably the best team we've played all year,'' said Jermaine O'Neal, who led Indiana with 31 points. "And they really showed why they're the best team in the NBA, because no matter what happens, they don't show very many emotions. They just come out with their hard hat and just play basketball, no matter what.''
O'Neal had 14 in the third quarter, but no one else scored for the Pacers until a fast-break layup by Sarunas Jasikevicius with just more than 3 minutes left in the period. A 13-2 run by the Jazz, meanwhile, ended with a rebound basket by Boozer and the third 3-point basket by Okur for a 78-57 lead.
Indiana cut it to 85-75 early in the fourth quarter, but Boozer hit a rebound basket, Paul Millsap scored on a fast-break dunk and Matt Harpring added a layup, and the Jazz never trailed by fewer than nine until the final rally by the Pacers.
"We executed pretty well,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We hit a couple shots against their zone and that hurt them a little bit. Then we executed our man-to-man offense pretty well.''
Boozer finished with 11 rebounds for his 18th double-double in 24 games this season. Deron Williams added 17 points and Derek Fisher had 15 points for the Jazz. Stephen Jackson had 16 for Indiana.
``They made big plays throughout the game. From start to finish, their collective will was stronger than ours,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. ``They had us on our heels from the beginning of the game.
``We ended up adjusting to it, but we had to be there from the beginning because they're too solid. There's no slippage in their game. ... They're that good. Very disciplined, and talented.''
O'Neal scored Indiana's first seven points, but he and Tinsley were the only Pacers to attempt a shot for most of the first quarter. Two 3-pointers by Okur and one by Williams, meanwhile, helped the Jazz to an 18-9 lead.
Jackson and Danny Granger each hit a 3-pointer and Tinsley added a basket to help the Pacers within two, but Utah expanded its lead to 29-23 at the end of the period and baskets by Gordan Giricek and Harpring gave the Jazz their first 10-point lead in the first minute of the second quarter.
Utah stretched the lead to 45-31 midway through the quarter, but the Pacers rallied again. Jackson hit four free throws and a 3-pointer, then fed O'Neal for a dunk after a Utah turnover to pull Indiana within 53-47 at halftime. Okur and Boozer got the first two baskets of the third quarter, and the Pacers never recovered.
Notes: Kirilenko has had at least one block in 25 straight games, the longest active streak in the NBA. O'Neal, with three blocks, has had at least one in 22 straight. ... Indiana's Al Harrington, in foul trouble early, did not score in 23 minutes. Utah is 16-2 when Boozer has a double-double. ... Carlisle, who had several players with lengthy suspensions after a brawl with Pistons fans two years ago, called Saturday's Nuggets-Knicks fight disappointing. ``I can tell you the power of emotions can be an underrated thing in our game. ... But unless you're there and a part of it and know all the dynamics of it, it's really hard to comment on it,'' Carlisle said.
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