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Jazz hold off Sonics

Utah Jazz' Jarron Collins drives for a layup against Seattle SuperSonics' Rashard Lewis on Tuesday night.
Utah Jazz' Jarron Collins drives for a layup against Seattle SuperSonics' Rashard Lewis on Tuesday night.
Jim Bryant, Associated Press

SEATTLE — By rights, the Jazz should have been exhausted.

Playing on the road for the eighth time in its 13-game-old season, and playing for the fourth time in five nights, Utah had every reason to roll over and let one get away Tuesday night.

Instead, the resurgent Jazz — winners now of two straight after losing five in a row — held on to beat Seattle 93-87 Tuesday night at Key Arena.

"We were really excited about playing — and that was good, because you've seen our team when we're not excited about playing," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "For the fourth game in five days they didn't show any fatigue, and that was big."

Utah, however, did not make things easy on itself.

The Jazz allowed the 5-6 Sonics to trim a 13-point Utah advantage to as few as three when Reggie Evans, using the rebound of his second straight missed free throw, scored inside to make it 86-83 with just more than a minute-and-a-half remaining.

The Jazz, though, had an answer.

It came, fittingly, from big man Mehmet Okur, who has offered one positive response after another as Utah has fought to open the season 6-7 despite a plethora of injuries.

Okur, who finished with a team-high 24 points and who had taken team-high scoring honors seven times this season, hit a 3-pointer to put Utah back up 89-83.

"Memo hit a huge shot," Sloan said.

The Sonics weren't done, however.

Seattle season-scoring leader Ray Allen, averaging 24.8 points coming into the game, followed a Rashard Lewis baseline layup with two free throws to make it 89-87 with 45.4 seconds left.

On Utah's next possession, though, the Jazz caught a break.

Guard Milt Palacio drove the lane and missed. Utah big man Jarron Collins pulled down the rebound and kicked a pass out to Devin Brown, but his trey try missed the mark. Seattle's Reggie Evans pulled down the rebound of Brown's miss, but Sonics forward Nick Collison was called for a loose-ball foul, allowing Collins to go to the line and make two freebies to put the Jazz ahead 91-87 with 19.5 seconds left.

After an Allen 3-point attempt rimmed out, Brown sealed the Jazz victory with two more free throws.

"I was proud of our guys not to back away and fade away," Sloan said. "A year ago we probably would have backed down."

The Jazz's reward?

Just one game in the next six nights — Friday night vs. Golden State, whom they've beaten once already this season — and eight of their next nine games at home.

Utah's meeting with the Warriors marks the start of a three-game homestand, with a one-game trip to Portland followed by a five-game homestand.

It's a much-deserved rest for the Jazz, who — despite using their sixth different opening lineup in the past seven games due to injuries and illness — had it going Tuesday from the start.

With Kris Humphries getting his first start of the season in the small-forward spot normally occupied by either Andrei Kirilenko or Matt Harpring — both are dealing with health issues, Kirilenko a sprained ankle and Harpring a surgically repaired knee — Utah took a five-point lead into the second quarter and extended that advantage to as many as 14 before the break.

The Jazz closed strong heading into halftime, going from 39-34 up with just more than two minutes remaining before intermission to 51-38 with one free throw from Palacio, two from Deron Williams, two from Collins, Brown's 21-foot jumper and Okur's 3-pointer.

Okur, who came into the game averaging a team-high 19.4 points per game, had 13 at the half on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.

The Sonics did get back to within as close as eight a couple of times late in the third quarter.

The Jazz, though, closed that period with a 5-0 spurt behind one Okur free throw, Gordan Giricek's driving layup and a Greg Ostertag basket to go into the final quarter up 73-60.

It would prove to be a cushion much-needed in the fourth, especially for a team as deserved for some quality couch time as perhaps any in the NBA.

MISC.: Lewis scored with a game-high 26 games, and Allen finished with 23. =85 Ex-Jazz big man Mikki Moore of Seattle was inactive Tuesday. Moore, battling a knee injury, has played in just two of 11 games this season . . . Sonics rookie center Johan Petro started just two days after checking into a hospital with dehydration stemming from a stomach flu . . . Sloan and first-year Sonics coach Bob Weiss played together eons ago in Chicago. "A great teammate," Sloan said. "He was a real smart basketball player." . . . Jazz front-office employees and players' wives will help serve Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon at the Delta Center to members of Salt Lake's homeless and low-income populations . . . A September charity game in Houston that injured Jazz forward Carlos Boozer took part in along with 30-plus other NBA players raised more than $1.5 million in cash, goods and services for Hurricane Katrina victims, game host and TNT analyst Kenny Smith announced Tuesday . . . The Jazz do not practice today and will not practice again until Thursday night, allowing some players — 18-year-old rookie C.J. Miles was to fly to Dallas, for example — to spend at least part of Thanksgiving Day with family in their respective hometowns.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com