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Utah Jazz: Boozer on an offensive tear

Carlos Boozer had a dominant game with 35 points and 13 rebounds for Utah.
Carlos Boozer had a dominant game with 35 points and 13 rebounds for Utah.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

Even while some fans ripped on him, booed him and demanded that the Jazz trade him, Carlos Boozer has had a strong ally on his side.

Despite Boozer's tumultuous offseason — and all the talk of Miami and Chicago — Jazz coach Jerry Sloan hasn't hesitated to voice his support for the power forward since the team reconvened this fall.

Boozer is making it quite easy for Sloan to defend him now.

Opponents are another story. They're having a heck of a time trying to defend and slow down Boozer, who scored a season-high 35 points and continued to scorch the nets.

"Boozer had a terrific game," Sloan said. "I think he's playing his best basketball that I've seen him play."

That's not just hyperbole from a proud coach, either.

Boozer has been in a red-hot shooting zone — so much so that hitting two-thirds of his attempts in Friday's 96-87 victory over Indiana was comparatively cool to his shooting percentage over the previous five games.

Coming into the game against the Pacers, Boozer had hit a sizzling 70 percent of his shots in five outings while averaging 25 points. Against Indiana, he sank 14 of his 21 attempts for a 66.7-percent clip.

OK, that's not much of a cool down — kinda like saying Death Valley is less balmy than the Sahara Desert.

It's a good thing Boozer was on fire, too, because most of the rest of the team was ice cold as the Jazz only shot 43.5 percent in a somewhat ugly offensive outing overall.

"I'm just having fun, man," Boozer said.

It shows. And he's not the only one. The two-time All-Star's all-star-level play has been a big factor in the Jazz winning four straight and seven of eight games.

Boozer's huge start helped the Jazz get off to one as well. He poured in 12 points and grabbed seven of his 13 rebounds while Utah vaulted to an early 22-3 lead.

Boozer finished the first half with 19 points, and then helped seal the deal after an Indiana comeback by powering and stroking in nine fourth-quarter points.

Boozer said he isn't sure where his current tear ranks in his eight-year career, but he was touched that Sloan gave him props.

"That's a great compliment," Boozer said. "I look forward to playing some more basketball."

In fact, Boozer kind of wishes the game would've lasted longer.

"You know," he said, "when you're playing good and you're having fun ... you could play two or three more hours."

Boozer, averaging 20.1 points and 10.9 rebounds coming into the night, wasn't about to take all the praise for himself, either. He dished out love to his teammates, too, and admitted they've all been having a ball while improving their record to 11-7 and becoming "an elite team" again.

"I'm just having a good time and enjoying my team," he said, "and we're winning."

Boozer's teammates are enjoying him, too.

"We know his capability, that's Carlos Boozer," said the forward's backup, Paul Millsap. "We know what he can do. We see everything in practice. He carries himself well. He comes in and tries to do everything right, and it just leads onto the floor."

Opponents — especially the ones that have to try to defend him on the court — are noticing as well.

"(Boozer) is playing at a very high level," said Indiana forward Troy Murphy. "They have a great chemistry between Carlos and (Deron) Williams. They're a tough matchup."

e-mail: jody@desnews.com