DENVER - Andrei Kirilenko went up for a dunk and had it blocked from behind. He grabbed the rebound, only to have the next attempt swatted away. On the third try, Kirilenko knifed between two defenders and tipped the ball into the basket.
The Jazz were already leading by 25 points with eight minutes left in the game, so Kirilenko didn't have to put in that much effort. But he did and it provided a glimpse of the difference between Utah and the Denver Nuggets early in the season.
With Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer providing the offense and Kirilenko adding the grit, the surprising Jazz stayed unbeaten with a 106-82 victory over the slumping Nuggets on Saturday night.
"I think tonight we played hard," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "Anytime you play hard, you have a chance to win."
The Jazz have been proving their coach's point so far this season.
After opening the season with easy wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State, Utah outshot, outrebounded and outhustled Denver to put away the game early. Boozer had 30 points and 17 rebounds, Kirilenko had 16 points and tied a career-high with eight blocked shots, and the Jazz shot 50 percent to open with three straight wins for the first time since going 5-0 in 2000-01.
Utah has shot 50 percent, scored 100 points and won by an average of 24 points in its three games this season.
"We are playing hard and are playing good team defense, and sharing the ball offensively," Boozer said.
The same couldn't be said for Denver.
The Nuggets stagnated on offense, rotated poorly on defense and were booed several times by the home fans after their second lackluster effort in three games. Denver scraped out a win over Minnesota in its home opener despite poor shooting, but had no chance this time after hitting 39 percent of their shots and falling behind by 16 points in the first half.
Carmelo Anthony had the worst of it, finishing 3-for-20 for seven points and starting the second half on the bench. Earl Boykins had 17 points, and Kenyon Martin added 14 for Denver, which is 1-2 with games against Utah, Seattle and defending champion Detroit coming up next week.
"I was disappointed in a lot of things with a lot of people," Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said.
Defensively, the Nuggets couldn't find an answer for Boozer, who was 6-for-9 for 14 points with five rebounds in the first quarter. Then again, none of the Jazz were missing much. Utah hit 12 of 19 shots in the first quarter and shot 55 percent in the first half, finishing with 60 points.
Bobcats 111, Magic 100
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Gerald Wallace slid face-first off the court after a hard foul, popped back up and looked at the scoreboard. He wasn't seeing things - Charlotte really was on its way to the first win in franchise history.
The expansion Bobcats wrestled for rebounds, scrambled after loose balls and outhustled Orlando Magic en route to a victory.
Primoz Brezec, quickly emerging as Charlotte's star player, had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bobcats. Wallace added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Steve Smith had 14 points, and Jason Hart had 14 points and 11 assists.
Celtics 107, Knicks 73
NEW YORK - Paul Pierce scored 28 points, Ricky Davis added 20, and Boston shot 56 percent to win for the first time this season after opening with two losses at home.
Heat 118, Wizards 106
WASHINGTON - Dwyane Wade had career highs with 37 points and 12 assists to again overshadow Shaquille O'Neal, and Miami improved to 3-0 for the second time in franchise history.
Wade made 11 of 16 field goals, 14 of 16 free throws and outshone the Wizards trio of Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Larry Hughes, who combined for 77 points and rallied Washington from a 10-point third-quarter deficit to tie the game late.
Pistons 99, 76ers 91
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Chauncey Billups had 20 points and 10 assists, and Richard Hamilton added 17 points, leading Detroit over Philadelphia.
Timberwolves 99, Hornets 92
MINNEAPOLIS - Latrell Sprewell ended a quiet night with a flurry, scoring seven points over a two-minute span down the stretch to spark Minnesota over New Orleans.
Sprewell, whose contract complaints have been the main focus of this first week of the Timberwolves' season, finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
Pacers 100, Bulls 90
INDIANAPOLIS - With five players sitting out and both All Stars on the bench with foul trouble, a group of role players helped Indiana pull away for a victory over Chicago.
Fred Jones hit three 3-pointers during the 19-6 spurt in the third quarter, and Stephen Jackson led the way with 24 points and four steals to help the banged-up Pacers improve to 3-0.
Suns 112, Nets 80
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Steve Nash had 17 points and eight assists, and Phoenix rode 57.4-percent shooting to its third straight victory. The 3-0 start is the best for the Suns since they went 5-0 to begin the 1984-85 season.
Bucks 102, Cavaliers 88
MILWAUKEE - Michael Redd scored 28 points and Keith Van Horn had 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks in their home opener. LeBron James scored 31 points for Cleveland, winless in three games this season. Jeff McInnis added 16 points and Drew Gooden had 12 for the Cavs.
Mavericks 112, Grizzlies 88
DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki hit a nifty basket that turned into a three-point play in Dallas' game-turning surge and finished with 22 points.
There might be a lot of new pieces, but Nowitzki and Michael Finley remain the centerpieces for the Mavericks, who improved to 3-0 after overcoming an early 12-point deficit. Finley added 23 points, and Nowitzki also had 13 rebounds.
Rockets 104, Kings 101, OT
HOUSTON - Charlie Ward made two 3-pointers in overtime, Yao Ming scored 33 points for the Rockets, who rallied late in their home opener. Tracy McGrady added 23 points in his Houston debut.
Clippers 94, Warriors 86
OAKLAND, Calif. - Corey Maggette had 26 points and six assists, and Bobby Simmons added 22 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers past Golden State.
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