SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Jazz may have found a point guard
they'll stick with.
The job that has bounced between three players all season came
back to Raul Lopez, who did everything he could Wednesday night to
make sure he hangs onto it in a 109-100 win over the Seattle
Lopez had a career-high 11 assists and matched his best scoring
total with 20 points.
"We don't have to think about who scored more points. We won
the game and that's what matters," said Lopez, who was making his
sixth start of the season. "We have a lot of games where people
scored a lot of points and we lost."
Lopez and Howard Eisley are Utah's only two active point guards,
less than a week after having four on the roster. Carlos Arroyo,
the starter last season, was traded to Detroit last week and Keith
McLeod was placed on the injured list Wednesday because of a
Lopez looked like he's been starting all along, although he had
plenty of help as seven Utah players scored in double figures.
"I thought he had a good game and I thought he played really
well," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "He seemed to play with a lot
more confidence than what he's played with."
Andrei Kirilenko scored 12 points and had five blocks in his
third game back after missing 26 with a knee injury, and Utah
escaped the season series against Seattle with a 1-3 record.
Matt Harpring scored 17, Carlos Boozer had 14 points and seven
rebounds and Gordan Giricek scored 10 for the Jazz. Raja Bell
scored 18 and Mehmet Okur scored nine of his 17 points in the
fourth quarter and combined with Kirilenko and Lopez to put away
the Sonics down the stretch.
"Six minutes before the end and we were up nine points. I still
think we need a couple more finishes to win the whole game,"
Kirilenko said. "We did it and we finally won the game."
The Sonics beat the Jazz in Seattle on Sunday night, but were
coming off a late-night 104-93 victory over the Lakers in Los
Angeles on Tuesday.
Lopez ran the offense from beginning to end and topped his
career high for assists by one. He also ended any hopes of the
Sonics coming back with a one-handed runner as the shot clock was
about to expire to put Utah ahead 102-91 with 2:50 remaining.
"He threw up one going to the basket with his eyes closed. And
when you're making shots like that, it's their night," Sonics
coach Nate McMillan said.
Kirilenko appeared healthy, especially at the end when he
swatted a shot away by Danny Fortson to help keep Utah's 17-6 run
alive early in the fourth quarter. Kirilenko added to Seattle's
frustration with a layup that went hard off the backboard but
bounced in -- as nearly everything did down the stretch for the
"He's freaky sometimes with some of the stuff he can do. We're
excited to have him back," Bell said. "Against a team that plays
that well, sometimes you've got to get the lucky bounce and that's
something that we weren't necessarily getting early in the
The Sonics haven't swept the Jazz since the 1982-83 season, back
when they played five times a season. Seattle hadn't won a season
series against Utah since 1995-96 and was trying to punctuate it
with a sweep.
But the Sonics had little left after leading 51-47 at halftime.
Allen and Luke Ridnour, who finished with 17 points, were the
only Sonics to score in the third quarter until Rashard Lewis hit a
3-pointer with 5:30 remaining. Lewis finished with 15 points, but
had only three points as the Sonics faded in the fourth quarter.
"Offensively we were so-so. We weren't good. We were average
tonight," Allen said. "They were sitting home rested. They played
Seattle's Reggie Evans had five rebounds in the first
quarter, but pulled down just two more the rest of the game. ...
Okur was called for an offensive foul early in the fourth quarter
when he stuck his hips back and Ridnour ran straight into him,
falling flat on his back.