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Boozer bounces back from criticism by Utah owner

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller couldn't
complain about this one.

Just days after berating his team in the locker room, Miller
witnessed one of Utah's best performances of the season in a 100-82
victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

The Jazz were just one assist away from having four players with
double-doubles and every Utah starter outscored Minnesota star
Kevin Garnett.

"This is one of the best times we have played as a team all
year, especially against a good team like them," said Carlos
Boozer, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz after
getting some of the harshest criticism from Miller.

Miller publicly questioned the toughness of Boozer, who signed a
$68 million deal with the Jazz during he summer and had been
slumping lately. Boozer and Miller met Thursday and resolved any
hard feelings.

"I just wanted to go out and get back on track. I have been a
little bit of a tough spell these last few games," Boozer said.
"I just wanted to pick it back up and try to get back to the level
of play that I usually am."

Andrei Kirilenko had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Mehmet Okur
finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in just his ninth start,
and Raul Lopez had 14 points and nine assists.

Raja Bell scored 18 points, giving every Utah starter more than
Garnett's 12 points.

"Offensively, we were OK, but in the second half they start to
get dunks and second-chance points. You can't win like that on the
road," Garnett said.

The Jazz, 1-5 in their previous six games, pulled away in the
third quarter with an 18-1 run and held off any chance at a
Timberwolves' comeback by shutting down Garnett. Utah also
outrebounded Minnesota 47-32, holding a 17-4 advantage on the
offensive glass.

"They crashed the boards like madmen tonight," Garnett said.
"Kirilenko was very, very active. if he didn't get it, Boozer or
Okur got it."

On the day the Jazz announced Karl Malone's retirement will
become official on Sunday, Utah had something to celebrate in what
has been a disappointing season.

"I think tonight we did a great job helping each other. That's
very important," said Kirilenko, who also had three blocks and
steals and four assists. "When we're helping each other, you see
the difference. We're just energetic on the floor and start to
dominate."

Bell said Miller encouraged his players before the game, four
days after a locker room tirade when the Jazz lost in overtime to
the Knicks.

"I don't really think that anybody believed he had really given
up on us. I think we knew he was just venting his frustrations,"
Bell said. "It kind of loosens you up a little bit to know that
he's on your side."

Latrell Sprewell led Minnesota with, 16 points and Troy Hudson
added 15 points and five assists off the bench for Minnesota, which
had just gotten back to .500 by snapping a six-game losing streak
Wednesday night at home against Denver.

It was a short stay, thanks in part to 21 turnovers Friday.

The Timberwolves led 41-37 at halftime, but crumbled in the
third quarter as the Jazz went 13-for-23 from the field. Bell
started a 14-0 run with four straight free throws. Kirilenko added
a 3-pointer to put the Jazz up 50-47, then Boozer pulled down an
offensive rebound on a missed free throw and spun around for a
layup. Boozer added a dunk after Kirilenko swatted away a shot by
Hudson to keep the run going.

Minnesota called a 20-second timeout, but it did no good. The
Jazz got the ball back and got it down low to Kirilenko, who threw
the ball behind his head before slamming it in with both hands for
a 61-48 lead.

"You have to say that this was one of our better outings
altogether," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.

Minnesota got within seven with six straight points to open the
fourth quarter, but Kirilenko had an alley-oop and converted a
three-point play after making a steal and keeping the Jazz in
command.

Wally Szczerbiak scored 14 points and Fred Hoiberg added 11
points for the Timberwolves.

Game notes
Minnesota guard Sam Cassell (hamstring) was not with the
team Friday night. ... The Jazz went on 14-4 run in first quarter
and led 27-20 on Bell's 3-pointer with about 6 seconds remaining.
... Utah was 25-for-43 from the field in the second half.