Reserve Matt Harpring scored 25 points and grabbed eight
rebounds, leading Utah past lethargic Minnesota 94-80 on Friday
"It was all while staying within the offense," said Harpring,
who went 10-for-19 from the field. "We have a lot of weapons when
we do that."
Andrei Kirilenko had 19 points and Mehmet Okur added 19 points
and 10 rebounds, helping the Jazz win for the fourth time in five
games and improve to 25-25 -- just a few percentage points out of
the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Starting point guard Keith McLeod, who appeared in 33 games for
the Timberwolves in the 2003-04 season, chipped in 13 points. And
Carlos Boozer played, too, getting two points in six minutes -- his
first action in nearly a year after fighting foot and hamstring
"My heart was beating a little faster," Boozer said. "My
anticipation was building up. It was like the first day of school,
when you go to kindergarten."
Minnesota, under first-year coach Dwane Casey, has a lot of
learning left to do with time running short on this season.
Trenton Hassell had 19 points, Ricky Davis scored 18 points on
7-for-22 shooting, and Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 18 rebounds
for Minnesota -- which has lost 21 of its last 31 games and is just
3-6 since the seven-player trade that sent Wally Szczerbiak to
Boston and brought Davis here.
The Wolves shot only 37 percent and committed 18 turnovers that
led to 21 Utah points. The worst part was that they were outworked
and outmuscled by their opponent for most of the game.
"I don't know, man," Garnett said. "This whole thing is an
adjustment. I'm just trying to figure it out as we go."
Frustration was evident for Minnesota, which complained about
foul calls that were or weren't made for much of the night. Anthony
Carter drew a technical with 1:53 left, and Garnett got one 18
seconds later. Harpring made two free throws after that, giving the
Jazz their largest lead at 92-74.
"Just crazy," Garnett said, referring to the refs.
Harpring had 14 points in the second quarter, scoring eight
straight in one stretch and sparking his team on a 21-9 run to end
the half. Davis struggled to guard him, and Okur and Kirilenko gave
the Wolves matchup problems, too, while the Jazz went 13-for-23
from the floor in that period and took a 50-39 lead into the locker
Hassell's dunk brought Minnesota within 54-53 midway through the
third quarter, but sloppiness and sluggishness on defense let Utah
-- which shot only 38 percent itself -- pull away again.
"We couldn't seem to do too much against their zone, but we
kept playing hard," coach Jerry Sloan said.
Harpring, who had 28 points in a win over Chicago on Monday,
joined the Jazz in the 2002-03 season and has since averaged 17.1
points in 12 games against the Wolves.
Boozer, who signed a six-year, $68 million contract in 2004,
strained his right foot last Feb. 14 and missed the final 31 games
of last season -- still finishing as Utah's leading scorer and
rebounder. Boozer then strained his left hamstring in training camp
and had several setbacks before returning to the court.
"I'm just glad that nothing happened so far," Sloan said,
"and hopefully he can move forward. Get back to where we can use
him out on the floor."
Marko Jaric, who lost his job as the Wolves' starting point
guard and didn't even play the last two games, subbed for Carter
with less than 6 minutes left in the third and his team trailing by
two. Jaric went 0-for-2, Minnesota's offense was ragged and Utah
had a 75-64 advantage at the end of the period.
Casey is trying to use Carter and new point guard Marcus Banks,
who came in the Szczerbiak trade, as catalysts for a faster-tempo
offense. But the bench has been all over the place with the
substitution patterns, and the players on the court have often
looked just as chaotic.
"You have to take care of the basketball," Casey said.
Minnesota's Troy Hudson, bothered by a sore right ankle
that has kept him out of the last four games, is scheduled to see a
doctor next week for another opinion. He was initially hurt in a
2003 preseason game and has not been the same since, even after
surgery in April 2004. ... Utah rookie Deron Williams returned
after missing the last game with a sprained left ankle.