Jazz keep win streak alive; 12 in a row

Published March 10, 2009 9:39 pm
Utah weathers the Pacers' hot three-point shooting to pick up 2nd win of road trip.
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Had they gone back in time a month or so, the Jazz probably would have lost Tuesday's game the way Indiana's Troy Murphy was burying three-pointers in the first half and Deron Williams was struggling with his shot all night.

For the NBA's hottest team, however, there is no end in sight for their current winning streak. The Jazz pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Pacers 112-100 for their 12th consecutive victory, now only three shy of matching the franchise record.

"I think a lot of these last couple games we would have lost," Williams said. "We would have hung our head a little bit. But we've been outlasting teams in the fourth quarter, which is big for us, and finishing games, especially on the road."

Murphy hit seven three-pointers in the first half but had only two points in the second half. Williams went 1-for-9 in finishing with five points and 12 assists. Yet the Jazz were able to break open a tie game with seven minutes remaining and leave with a victory.

Their winning streak now stands alone as the fourth-longest in franchise history, eclipsed only by two 15-game streaks in the 1996-97 season and a 14-game streak from Jan. 7 to Feb. 1, 1995.

"It can last as long as we want it to last," said Paul Millsap, who had 22 points and nine rebounds, including 13 points in the second half.

The Pacers had beaten Boston, the L.A. Lakers, Houston, Orlando, Cleveland and Denver at Conseco Fieldhouse already this season, but the Jazz weren't about to become the latest victims here in the cradle of basketball.

"We've just got to keep going," Williams said. "We can't get complacent, we can't get satisfied with winning these two games on the road. We have a little bit left to do on this road trip. There's some tough games coming up."

Having opened their five-game trip with victories at Toronto and Indiana, the Jazz will play Atlanta tonight in the second game of a back-to-back set. They finish the trip with games at Miami and Orlando over the weekend.

As they have with increasingly regularity, the Jazz came through with the plays they needed in the fourth quarter, which they won 30-20. They were tied 90-90 with 7:08 left after T.J. Ford hit a jumper, but pulled away with a 16-4 run.

Andrei Kirilenko hit a three-pointer, Millsap faked Maceo Baston in the air before ducking in for a layup and Kirilenko stole an inbounds pass to start the run, though Carlos Boozer was called for an offensive foul.

Mehmet Okur went at Roy Hibbert, banking in a shot as part of a three-point play, then backed down Hibbert and fouled out the rookie, earning a trip to the line. Kyle Korver followed with a three-pointer after a questionable out-of-bounds call to make it 105-94.

"[Hibbert] had his fourth foul and I didn't want to settle [for] my jumper," said Okur, who led the Jazz with 24 points. "I wanted to put the ball on the floor, at least get to the free-throw line, and I was able to do it."

The Pacers had been 6-3 since losing All-Star forward Danny Granger to a foot injury, but the Jazz pounced from the start, with Okur attacking for a three-point play and Williams stripping Jarrett Jack and C.J. Miles following Williams' miss with a dunk.

The Jazz had 11 steals in the first half and 16 for the game, converting 22 Indiana turnovers into 26 points. Murphy led the Pacers back from 12 points down in the second quarter, with his seven three-pointers one shy of the NBA record for a half.

But Murphy missed the only two shots he attempted in the second half and scored his only points off two free throws. He finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but the Jazz prevailed for their fourth consecutive road victory.

It made for a happy homecoming for coach Jerry Sloan. With six of his grandchildren living four blocks apart in the area, Sloan was asked by his daughter to greet a youth basketball team before the game. He noticed the Pacers jerseys some of the kids wore.

"I said, 'Make sure you yell for the Pacers. My grandkids are supposed to yell for us,'" Sloan said. There was no telling, though, by the end of the night just how many converts the Jazz had won as their streak lived on.

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In short » The Jazz pull away in the final seven minutes to beat Indiana.

Key moment » Mehmet Okur scores as part of a three-point play and fouls out Roy Hibbert with 4:24 remaining.

Key stat » The Jazz have outscored teams an average of 106.9-96 during their streak.

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