7:00 PM ET, November 20, 2006
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Boozer scored a season-high 35 points on his 25th birthday, rallying Utah past the Toronto Raptors 101-96 Monday night for its 10th victory in 11 games and the best start in franchise history.
"Sometimes you are going to have nights like that and some nights are going to be tough in the NBA. But it's nice to have things go right on your birthday," Boozer said. "All I wanted is a win."
He might not have gotten his wish without Millsap, who sparked the comeback with eight points in a 16-1 run that put the Jazz ahead to stay, 93-86.
It was the second consecutive game Utah rallied from a 16-point deficit. The Jazz beat Phoenix 120-117 in overtime Saturday after trailing by 16.
"I think Millsap has shown us a great deal about what team basketball is," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who doesn't hand out many compliments to rookies. "We don't like to talk about it. We just go do it."
Sloan earned his 900th win as coach of the Jazz, who opened the 1998-99 season with a 9-1 record but lost their 11th game en route to a 37-13 finish in the lockout-shortened campaign. Sloan is 900-538 with Utah and 994-659 overall.
"It really doesn't mean anything," he said. "That's the way I've always played this game, and always thought about it. I'm just here as a coach, but it is a players' game. It always has been and always will be."
Millsap and Boozer were the players making the plays at the end on this night. Millsap, a second-round draft choice, established a career high with 20 points and had five offensive rebounds, four of which led to second-chance points.
"I just wanted to come in and make some impact. If it's just getting one rebound, one steal a game, it's all right with me," Millsap said. "I'm going in there and doing what I've got to do."
Chris Bosh thought Millsap changed the complexion of the game.
"He had a phenomenal game tonight. He just got those key loose balls and then when he got them he scored 'em. Those are the points in the paint. He got the crowd into it with his hustle plays and we should've kept a body on him," said Bosh, who paced Toronto with 17 points.
The Raptors got within two, but Boozer made the last three Jazz field goals down the stretch, including one when he was fouled and landed on his backside above the free-throw line as the ball banked in.
"We're having fun. I think you could see that out there in the fourth quarter with the fans going crazy," said Boozer, who made 14 of 16 field goals and grabbed nine rebounds to keep the Jazz perfect at home.
Boozer was one point shy of his career high of 36 against Seattle on Dec. 1, 2004.
Jorge Garbajosa, T.J. Ford and Fred Jones all had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds with a 3-pointer, but none managed to connect. The Raptors lost all five games on their road trip out West.
"We stayed hungry. We never gave up and we had a lot of fun in the second half," said Mehmet Okur, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds and made two free throws for the final margin.
Ford had 16 points and Jones added 15 for Toronto. Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft, had the best game of his brief career with 15 points.
As well as the Jazz played at the end, they struggled with 16 turnovers in the first three quarters. The Raptors' biggest lead came at 70-54 midway through the third quarter.
"We probably panicked a little bit when they made their run. You know, this is the NBA. We had to be aware that the home team was going to make a run," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said.
Andrei Kirilenko missed his fourth straight game with a sprained ankle, but the Jazz have won them all without him.
"The second half was great but the first half was terrible. It was like night and day," Boozer said.
The Jazz have not shot more free throws than their opponents in any game this season. ... EnergySolutions, a nuclear waste services company based in Salt Lake City, has bought the naming rights to the downtown arena that has been known as the Delta Center since it opened 15 years ago. ... The Jazz are 29-2 the last two seasons when they score 100 or more points. ... When Millsap entered in the first quarter, public address announcer Dan Roberts announced him as Ronnie Millsap, the country music star.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||31-74 (.419)||38-81 (.469)|
|3PM-3PA||7-19 (.368)||5-13 (.385)|
|FTM-FTA||27-37 (.730)||20-31 (.645)|
|Fast Break Points||17||10|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (0/0)||25 (1/0)|