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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Utah Jazz have no idea if they are any good, despite their 6-1 start.
The Jazz overcame a 22-point deficit Tuesday night for a 107-105 victory over the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. It was the kind of win that has Utah coach Jerry Sloan wondering what kind of team he has.
"We try to play for respect," said 1999 Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer, who scored a career-high 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. "A lot of teams don't respect us, Jerry has warned us about that."
That's because Utah's impressive start has included wins against bottom-feeders Golden State and Denver (twice).
"When we do the right things, we can be a good team," said Raja Bell, who scored 21, including five critical points in the waning moments to lift the Jazz.
"But if we don't do the right things, we can lose to a team like Charlotte."
Bell made a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left and hit two clutch free throws to rally the Jazz.
His 3-pointer cut Charlotte's lead to 105-104, then he gave Utah its first lead on two free throws with 15.5 seconds to go. That put the Jazz up 106-105, and the Bobcats set up for a final shot.
But the clock failed to start twice, stopping play both times, and Gerald Wallace missed his jumper for Charlotte. Utah got the rebound, Boozer was fouled, and he made a free throw to wrap it up.
"They made some big shots and we didn't get any stops," Wallace said. "This is a tough one because mentally we let down and they just outworked us in the second half."
Keith Bogans led Charlotte with a career-high 28 points. Eddie House had 17, Wallace scored 16, Emeka Okafor had 13 and Primoz Brezec 11.
Bogans, acquired in a trade with Orlando before the season, began the year on the injured list for the expansion Bobcats. But with guards Brevin Knight and Jason Hart out with injuries, Charlotte had to put Bogans in the rotation, activating him on Monday.
A self-proclaimed defensive specialist, he came off the bench to give the Bobcats an offensive lift by scoring 15 points in the first half as Charlotte opened its 22-point lead.
"It was good for me individually, but it doesn't matter," Bogans said. "Without the 'W' it's good, but getting the 'W' makes it even better."
The Bobcats couldn't get the win because the Jazz pulled within one several times in the waning moments and Charlotte didn't stop them.
Clinging to a 99-98 lead, Wallace scored on a driving layup over Boozer and drew a foul. But Wallace landed hard on his tailbone and needed several moments to collect himself. Wincing at the line, he missed the free throw.
Boozer answered with a basket at the other end to close to 101-100 with 52 seconds to play. Wallace was fouled as he dribbled up the court, and this time he made both shots to make it 103-100.
After Bell hit a free throw, Bogans scored on a 10-footer to push it back to 105-101.
But Bell made it 105-104 on his 3, Bogans missed a pair of free throws with 17 seconds to play, and it seemed as if Utah would take the final shot of the game.
Instead, Steve Smith fouled Bell as he drove toward the basket, sending Bell to the line. He made both to put Utah up 106-105 - its first lead of the game.
"We got a little bit lucky. We had to have a little bit of luck the way we started off," Sloan said. "I thought they were going to win the ballgame because they kept working. But finally we had a couple of things go our way."
The Bobcats then seemed rattled by the two stoppages and failed to convert.
"We didn't get done what we needed to," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "It had nothing to do with Utah. We just didn't get it done. All we had to do was finish."