Jazz rally to eclipse Suns

Utah rebounds from 14-point deficit to defeat NBA's best

Posted: Thursday, January 13, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - The Phoenix Suns ran so much early they had nothing left at the end.

Utah rallied after falling behind by 14 and held off the Suns 115-108 on Wednesday night, the Jazz's second straight win over one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

"Those are signs of what we can do and those are signs of the team that we have if we do the right thing," said Raja Bell, who scored 19 points off the bench after missing five games with inflammation in his right knee.

Utah's bench and rebounding wore down the Suns, who beat Miami 122-107 the night before. Utah's reserves outscored the Suns' 67-6, and the Jazz won the rebounding battle 55-35.

Mehmet Okur, whose last-second offensive rebound and putback gave Utah a 97-96 win over San Antonio on Monday night, finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds - 10 on the offensive glass.

"Right place, right time. It's all about effort. I'm going (after) every ball," Okur said after his second straight double-double.

After losing nine straight, the Jazz have won two in a row over the teams with the top two records in the West. Keith McLeod finished with 10 points and 11 assists, and Matt Harpring had 16 points and eight rebounds for Utah. Juneau-Douglas High School alumnus Carlos Boozer scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds for Utah.

Despite the huge victories, Utah only improved to 13-24, and coach Jerry Sloan wasn't going to let the celebration on the team flight to Sacramento for a game Thursday get too rowdy.

"If they don't realize where we are and what a hole we've dug ourselves in, it's a sad commentary because we have a long way to go to fight out of this hole," Sloan said. "Hopefully, it'll be important enough for them to try to do that. Basketball can be a lot of fun when everybody's involved with us."

Steve Nash had 22 points and 11 assists for the Suns, who had won seven in a row and 18 of 19. All five Suns starters finished in double figures, but Nash was the only one who appeared to have anything left at the end.

Quentin Richardson scored 24, Shawn Marion finished with 20 points and Amare Stoudemire had 19.

"I don't think we had the same energy," Marion said. "We came out of the gates on fire tonight and I think we just relaxed a little bit. And as soon as we relaxed, they became the aggressors and they started getting all the calls."

Actually, Phoenix was called for seven fouls in the second half to Utah's 15. And in the third quarter, the Suns were only called for three fouls while the Jazz drew nine, incensing Sloan and the home crowd of 19,209. The home fans who booed the officiating so loudly had plenty to cheer at the end.

"We needed something like this," said Utah's Raul Lopez, who had 14 points and four assists off the bench. We need more wins like these."

Phoenix was able to run at will early, but the Jazz took control in the second quarter and held off everything the Suns had down the stretch.

After falling behind by 11, the Suns cut Utah's lead to 83-82 on a three-point play by Stoudemire with 51 seconds left in the third quarter. But Utah closed the quarter with six straight points, getting two fee throws by Curtis Borchardt, a layup from Howard Eisley on a goaltending call and Kris Humphries' layup just before the buzzer after stealing an inbounds pass.

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