7:00 PM ET, January 2, 2008
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Williams fed Boozer for two open jumpers in the final 1:13, but the Jazz didn't escape with a 110-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers until newly acquired Kyle Korver made five consecutive free throws in the final 27 seconds against his former team Wednesday night.
"I haven't been that nervous in a long time," Korver said.
Boozer scored 22 points and Williams had a season-high 20 assists to help the Jazz start anew after a 5-11 December, their worst month since going 3-12 in March 2005.
"It was great because the way they played us in the pick-and-roll was that they stayed home on our shooters in the corner," Boozer said. "Me and D-Will were able to play a little pick-and-roll basketball and we took advantage of it and I knocked down some 17-footers."
Dalembert's backward, over-the-shoulder shot in the lane cut Utah's lead to 105-103 in the final minute. But Williams and Boozer executed the famous Jazz pick-and-roll down the stretch, and Korver's free throws quelled the Sixers' rally.
"It came down to little things," Iguodala said. "They had two huge plays off the pick-and-roll for Boozer. We really didn't have a scheme down and the guys weren't on the same page on rotating. He got two open shots."
Deron Williams, who also scored 15 points, topped his previous season high of 15 assists against the 76ers on Nov. 28. In his last four games against Philadelphia, the Jazz guard has averaged more than 16 assists.
"Deron makes it easy, especially on guys like me and Kyle who just try and slide into those seams, and he sees us and we get wide-open looks," Miles said.
Iguodala made a 3-pointer near halfcourt at the third-quarter buzzer to draw the 76ers to 78-71. Then he hit a jumper to begin the fourth quarter on his way to becoming the first Sixers player to score 30 points this season.
"Andre's been playing this way. Shooting his jump shot a little better, getting to the basket more, just doing things like that," 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said.
The Jazz slowly built their lead through the final period and Williams put them up 101-91 on a steal and assist from Andrei Kirilenko with 4:02 remaining.
But Iguodala made a 3-pointer and threw a nifty alley-oop to Dalembert to spark a furious comeback. Miller's free throws with 1:31 to play closed the gap to 101-99.
The Jazz then called their familiar "C" play -- a pick-and-roll at the free throw line extended with Williams and Boozer -- on consecutive possessions, and the Utah power forward made open jumpers.
"Booze just told me to come to him, so I'm going to come to him," Williams said. "A guy like that tells you he wants the ball, he's going to come up with some big shots. He's come up with big shots all year. Everybody on the team has the utmost confidence in him."
Four days after being traded from Philadelphia to Utah for Gordan Giricek and a conditional first-round draft pick, Korver found himself at the line in crunch time against his former team.
"I missed a free throw and I apologize for that. I shouldn't have missed that free throw," Korver said.
With 26.1 seconds remaining and the Jazz nursing a two-point lead, Korver made one of two free throws. He then made four straight foul shots in the final moments to preserve the victory.
"That's what he does, he knocks free throws down," Boozer said. "He missed one and said he wasn't going to miss any more, and he didn't. It's good to be able to have a guy that can shoot 90 percent down the stretch and seal the game for us."
After an argument with coach Jerry Sloan during a Dec. 19 defeat at Charlotte, Giricek was sent to the locker room and never played for the Jazz again. He scored four points while Korver scored 14 in just 11 minutes.
"Well, there's no secret. When Kyle was with us, we tried putting the ball in his hands to make free throws at the end of games," Cheeks said. "Sad we lost the game, happy for Kyle."
The Sixers, in the midst of a six-game Western Conference road trip, had won four of five but they couldn't slow Utah's precision offense. The 76ers outrebounded the Jazz 40-26 and outscored Utah 50-30 in the paint, but allowed the Jazz to shoot 53 percent.
"The 76ers were manhandling us inside with their ability to rebound the basketball," Sloan said. "They did that pretty much all night and it kept them in the ballgame, but it was a great win because of the way we ended up having to finish it out."
Giricek heard sporadic boos each time he touched the ball. ... Korver guarded Giricek for the one possession they both shared the court. When Giricek sat down, Korver made his first shot, a 3-pointer in front of the Jazz bench. ... Cheeks got a technical with 3:42 left in the second quarter. ... The Jazz have shot better than 50 percent in three straight games. ... Giricek missed his first free throw of the season. He had only attempted one before this game. ... Iguodala's previous season high was 28 points against Miami on Dec 26.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||41-85 (.482)||40-75 (.533)|
|3PM-3PA||3-8 (.375)||7-10 (.700)|
|FTM-FTA||22-31 (.710)||23-27 (.852)|
|Fast Break Points||18||15|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||20 (1/0)||24 (0/0)|