7:00 PM ET, March 6, 2006
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Kirilenko blocked Jameer Nelson's potential game-tying shot with 9.5 seconds left, then knocked the ball away as DeShawn Stevenson rose to shoot a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining to help the Utah Jazz hold off the Orlando Magic 90-85 on Monday night.
"Jameer drove the baseline and I saw that nobody could help. He was kind of open, so I just made a couple of steps and jumped. It was a good floater, so it was hard for me to block it. I just caught it at the right time," Kirilenko said.
Mehmet Okur scored 22 points for the Jazz, who squandered a 20-point lead and made just one field goal in the fourth quarter on 14 attempts.
The fourth-quarter meltdown didn't go unnoticed by Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, who walked across the floor with 26 seconds to glare at the players and then had some pointed comments for the team in the locker room after the game.
"They are a bunch of pampered babies," Miller told the media. "We need some guys with some guts and some fire down the stretch. It wouldn't hurt me to turn over all 15 guys, but the trading deadline has passed and there's nothing we can do."
Deron Williams made Utah's last field goal in the first minute of the final period.
"We just stopped executing. We just quit there in the fourth quarter and didn't finish out the ballgame," said Williams, who scored 15 points.
Kirilenko, who has been bothered by back spasms, also made six free throws in the final 1:05 and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.
"Everything was right, everything about my technique was good. Sometimes when you're shooting, you feel a little cold and that's a factor. But tonight I just felt confident at the free throw line," Kirilenko said of his 10-of-10 free-throw performance.
"Fortunately Andrei made a couple of big plays to win the ballgame," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
Dwight Howard led Orlando with 18 points, while Carlos Arroyo and DeShawn Stevenson, both former Jazz players, each had 14. Stevenson and Nelson, who had 10 points, each received technical fouls for cursing officials after Kirilenko's final block.
"You can look at it on film, but I'm not going to speak on it. We played hard. We played real hard," Stevenson said.
Orlando coach Brian Hill wasn't afraid to say what he thought about the officiating.
"We gave ourselves more than a chance, and I was disappointed that the game wasn't decided by the players, that it was decided by the officials," Hill said.
Arroyo and Howard played a two-man game bridging the third and fourth quarters that nearly brought the Magic back from a certain blowout. Arroyo scored eight points and Howard had five, including an emphatic alley-oop dunk, in a 20-5 burst that sliced the lead to 80-75.
"To value every play is crucial at the end of the game. The fourth quarter we came through with a lot of energy and stayed focused of what we were trying to do as a team," Arroyo said.
Over the next four minutes, the Jazz missed 5-of-6 free throws and barely beat the shot clock on nearly every possession as the crowd booed their hometown team. Stevenson made two free throws and Nelson hit a pair of baskets to knot the game at 81.
Okur and Kirilenko combined to make four throws, but Stevenson and Nelson made baskets for the last tie of the game at 85 with 28 seconds remaining.
The Magic have lost 14 of 15.
One night after Utah's 113-81 loss in Seattle, Okur scored six points in a game-opening 10-0 run and the Jazz never trailed though they seemed to visibly tire down the stretch.
Kirilenko capped an 11-1 run midway through the third quarter with a layup that was salvaged after he lost the ball on the way up for a breakaway dunk. The Jazz led 75-55 with 2:07 left in the period.
The Magic struggled to get into an offensive flow and get good shots until the fourth quarter. The Jazz blocked 13 shots and forced several off-balance attempts.
Orlando starting center Tony Battie played just 21 seconds before leaving the game with two fouls. ... Utah's Carlos Boozer grabbed his 2,000th NBA rebound in the first quarter. ... With 5:54 left in the second quarter, Greg Ostertag came down awkwardly on his left ankle and was helped to the locker room. He did not return to the court. ... Hedo Turkoglu and Boozer both fouled out before the 4:58 mark of the fourth quarter. ... The game was stopped in the third quarter as Kirilenko had to get a cut on his leg to stop bleeding before making two free throws.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||31-74 (.419)||28-70 (.400)|
|3PM-3PA||2-6 (.333)||4-6 (.667)|
|FTM-FTA||21-32 (.656)||30-42 (.714)|
|Fast Break Points||7||13|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||31 (3/0)||26 (0/0)|