Short-handed Jazz still whip Hornets
No matter that Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur were out or that Carlos Boozer played just 15 minutes on account of foul trouble. The Jazz's 70th game of the season proved to be one of their easiest against the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night.
One night after they never led in losing to the Phoenix Suns, the Jazz never trailed on the way to a 106-86 victory over the Hornets before 18,766 at EnergySolutions Arena, shooting 67.5 percent in the first half and leading by 25 at halftime.
Without Kirilenko (strained calf) and Okur (stomach ailment), the Jazz started C.J. Miles and Kyrylo Fesenko in their absence and watched Miles and Fesenko deliver two of their strongest games of the season.
Miles attacked the basket from the opening minutes and finished with 19 points, hitting 8 of 11 shots and three three-pointers. Fesenko had 11 points and eight rebounds in 44 minutes, by far the most in his career.
The Jazz took advantage of David West's flagrant-foul ejection in the first quarter and led by as many as 35 points in the second half. New Orleans (33-38) lost for the 10th time in 12 games and wrapped up a 1-4 trip.
Deron Williams (17 points, 11 assists) provided the defining moment of the night. With 2:19 left in the third quarter, Williams flipped in a layup, drew a foul on Marcus Thornton, bounced into the front row, settled into a seat and wrapped his arms around two fans.
The Jazz have won their last six home games, the last five in especially impressive fashion. They beat Houston by 23, the Clippers by 22, Washington by 23, Minnesota by 22 and New Orleans by 20, an average of 22.
The Jazz jumped out to a 8-2 lead as Miles attacked the basket the first two times he touched the ball. Miles passed on a three-pointer later in the quarter and went in for a dunk. He connected on two three-pointers in the second quarter and went 5-for-5 in the half.
With Okur home sick, Fesenko made his fifth start of the season and had 10 points in the first half. Fesenko even baited Emeka Okafor into thinking he would take a 16-footer and drove past Okafor for a layup and a foul.
Boozer played just 12:38 in the first quarter due to foul trouble but Fesenko helped fill the void. He had a dunk and hit a spinning shot in the post against Aaron Gray in the second quarter. Fesenko went 5-for-6 in the half, his only miss coming on a jumper.
Already playing without Chris Paul, who is due back from knee surgery in the next week, the Hornets lost West with 1:50 left in the first half. West was ejected for a second-degree flagrant foul, clocking Kyle Korver in the head as Korver went up for a reverse layup.
The Jazz led 26-18 after Korver converted the two free throws following West's ejection and went on to outscore the Hornets 18-8, building an 18-point cushion. New Orleans closed within nine points, but the Jazz closed the half with a 17-1 run.
The highlight came as Othyus Jeffers checked in for the final 1:07, stole the ball from Julian Wright and took off for a one-handed dunk down the lane.
Morris Peterson, once courted by the Jazz as a free agent, airballed two three-pointers in the first quarter and went 0-for-6 in the first half. Peterson also missed two free throws for the Hornets, who played without Peja Stojakovic (abdominal strain).