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Utah Jazz: Despite fumble fingers, Jazz sting Hornets

Despite fumble fingers, Utah still stings Hornets

Jazz forward Carlos Boozer (5) hangs onto the rim after throwing down a dunk.
Jazz forward Carlos Boozer (5) hangs onto the rim after throwing down a dunk.
Patrick Semansky, AP

NEW ORLEANS — With 43 turnovers in their two games since the NBA All-Star break, including 22 Wednesday night at New Orleans, gut reaction might be to blow things up.

Before the league's deadline for dealing passes this afternoon, trade all the fumble fingers away.

The fallacy in that way of thinking, though, is that the Jazz are winning despite their sloppy starts and slippery conduct.

Utah beat the Hornets 98-90 Wednesday at New Orleans Arena, overcoming a rough opening quarter by committing just two turnovers in the fourth en route to winning for the fifth straight time on the road and the 11th time in its last 12 games.

"You wonder how you can win a ballgame when you have that many turnovers," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who called the count "an amazing number of times for this stage of the season" — and in doing sounded suspiciously similar to when he spoke after Utah won Tuesday night at Houston despite 21 miscues against the Rockets.

Helping the 34-19 Jazz overcome their woeful ways Wednesday was a 24-point performance off the bench from starting power forward Paul Millsap, a 16-point and 15-rebound double-double (his 33rd of the season) from starting power forward Carlos Boozer and a 16-point and 10-assist double-double (his 25th this season) from All-Star point guard Deron Williams.

Utah went into the fourth quarter up one on a 28-26 New Orleans team missing injured All-Star point guard Chris Paul because of his recent knee surgery, and outscored the Hornets 26-19 during a final period in which Boozer scored eight of his 16 and reserve swingman Kyle Korver scored all seven of his points.

That evened the Jazz's road record this season to 12-12, boosting the constantly growing self-assurance of a club that closes its current four-game trip with visits to Golden State on Friday and Portland on Sunday.

"That's a sign of maturity, a sign of growing," Williams said of the Jazz's second consecutive strong finish. "We just know what it takes now."

"We're confident," Millsap added, "but we're gonna have to tighten up a little bit, because we get off to bad starts like that on good teams, you're not gonna be able to catch back up."

The Jazz committed a whopping nine of their turnovers in the opening quarter, including two by center Mehmet Okur, who committed a team-worst five, and three from forward Andrei Kirilenko.

At one point in the first period, Utah committed six straight turnovers.

The Jazz were still stuck on six points nearly 71/2 minutes into the game, and they found themselves down by as many as 11 early on.

"I didn't know if we was ever going to get anything going," Sloan said.

But they did, and Williams thinks he knows why.

"Early on in the game, I was just trying to get everybody involved," he said, "and I got a couple turnovers early, and that kind of makes me be a little tentative, because I don't want to keep doing it.

"So the second half, I just came out and told myself I was gonna be aggressive," the Jazz point guard added. "I was able to get going a bit. Scoring the ball, I think, gave some other guys confidence, because when people (opponents) are having to worry about me it frees other guys up. We got some good looks, and took it from there."

The game was knotted at 85 with just more than three minutes to go, but Boozer put the Jazz ahead to stay off a feed from Williams and Utah outscored New Orleans 13-5 from the point of the tie.

Utah closed with solid free-throw shooting for a second straight night, this time making 7-of-8 — 1-of-2 by Kirilenko, and 2-of-2 each by Boozer, Korver and Williams — over the final 2:02.

The Jazz also benefited from a couple key offensive rebounds in the late going, both by Boozer, who first batted a C.J. Miles 3-point miss back to Miles on a sequence that led to Kirilenko's two free throws and then rebounded Kirilenko's missed freebie to create two of his own.

"We have a lot of confidence finishing games," Boozer said. "We believe we can win."

e-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com