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Memo to Chicago: Jazz win in OT

Okur’s late 3-pointer caps comeback win in overtime for Utah

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The Jazz came in as the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA. Twenty-nine others were hitting better than their paltry 30.2 percent from behind the long-distance line. Coach Jerry Sloan practically despises the shot.

It really was not fitting whatsoever, then, that Utah won like it did Monday night at the Delta Center — but the Jazz sure will take it anyway.

"It feels great," big man Mehmet Okur said.

It was Okur who fired away and hit his mark on a scrambling trey try with 0.7 seconds remaining in overtime, leading Utah to 109-107 win over the Chicago Bulls that seemed rather improbable earlier in the five-minute session.

"Especially when it is on our home court, in front of our fans," Okur said, "it feels great."

Yet it almost felt like a nightmare for the 24-25 Jazz, who have now won three of their last four games.

The Bulls actually forced OT with a big-time 3-pointer of their own, as Ben Gordon's triple with 10.2 seconds to go in regulation helped erase a Jazz advantage that had stood at six just a minute earlier.

Jazz guard Milt Palacio got picked on the in-bounds play to a wide-open Gordon, who wound up with a game-high 35 points that included 10-of-10 free-throw shooting and 3-of-6 from behind the arc.

Palacio had a chance to answer on the other end. But he could not get a screen from Okur, and his 20-footer went awry, leaving it tied at 93-93.

Three minutes into overtime — after Chicago's Andres Nocioni hit, go figure, a 3-pointer — the Bulls were up seven at 104-97.

But the Jazz, who admitted they quit in a fourth-quarter loss Sunday at Sacramento, weren't about to give up on this one.

Utah kept chipping away, and tied it again at 106 when Matt Harpring — who finished with a team-high 28 points off the bench — came off a curl and knocked down a 19-foot jumper with 36.6 seconds left.

Chicago center Tyson Chandler made 1-of-2 from the free-throw line 11.5 seconds later, giving the Bulls the lead at 107-106 — but the Jazz one more shot at a win.

And here's where it really got hairy.

Harpring again came off a curl, but this time he missed a 12-footer. Chicago's Luol Deng, despite being fouled by Kirilenko at the time, managed to grab the rebound. As Deng tried to pass out from down low, though, Jazz guard Devin Brown managed to swat the ball away. It went to Kirilenko, who prompting spotted point Keith McLeod up top. McLeod leaned it to shoot, but was covered. He dished instead to Okur, who was more open to his McLeod's left.

The big Turk — one of the NBA's top outside-shooting big men and the Jazz's leading scorer this season — drained his trey with amazing coolness to put Utah back up by two.

It's was the Jazz's seventh trey of the game, quite un-Jazz like.

"I saw the rim, didn't hesitate, and I took the shot," said Okur, who finished with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. "We're lucky I hit that."

Or perhaps Cool Hand Okur was selling himself short.

"I think everybody knows that Memo can hit the 3, especially in crunchtime," Kirilenko said.

Consider: Even Sloan claimed to be calm, cool and collected after watching Okur's release.

"I just think every time he shoots the ball it looks like it's going in," the Jazz coach said. "He's kind of one of those guys that's kind of like (retired Jazz sharpshooter) Jeff Hornacek in that regard — every time you see the ball go out of his hands, you just feel he's going to make it, whether it goes in or not."

With only 0.7 seconds remaining, all the Bulls could muster was a failed in-bounds play to Nocioni.

Nocioni's shot actually went in, but he had to pump fake before getting it off — taking way too much time before time expired, as a video replay review confirmed.

All of which left the Jazz, who do not play again until opening a three-game trip Friday at Minnesota, anxiously awaiting today's reward.

"We have a day off," Kirilenko said, "and we deserve it."

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com