Wed, Nov 22, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Hot Jazz rally past Raptors for best-ever start

DPA , LOS ANGELES

On a night when milestones were set, the surging Utah Jazz hit a high note, though it wasn't easy against the lowly Toronto Raptors.

Carlos Boozer celebrated his 25th birthday with a season-high 35 points, and energetic rookie Paul Millsap added a career-best 20, rallying the Jazz past the Raptors 101-96 on Monday night en route to their 10th win in 11 games for the best start in team history.

"We had to fight hard for this win," said Boozer, who made 14-of-16 field goals and grabbed nine rebounds. "It's a big testament to our character how we fought back."

The victory also earned Jerry Sloan his 900th coaching victory with Utah.

"It was great to get that win for him," said Jazz guard Deron Williams, who had 12 points. "I know he probably appreciated it even though he won't tell you. We're happy to get it for him and happy to be 10-1. It's a great start."

Williams was right, because Sloan preferred to talk about his club's start, instead of his personal accomplishment.

"This doesn't mean anything," said Sloan, whose 994-victory total is fifth all-time in the NBA. "These guys have worked hard. They can be as good as they want to be, if they play as a team."

Turkey's Mehmet Okur chipped in with 17 points and 13 rebounds for Utah, which improved to 5-0 at home.

Chris Bosh had 17 points and 16 rebounds, while TJ Ford scored 16 for Toronto (2-8), which fell to 0-5 on the road. Italy's Andrea Bargnani, the top pick in last summer's draft, chipped in with a career-best 15 points as did Fred Jones.

The Jazz played listless through the first three quarters before Millsap provided the spark.

"That's what he brings to the table," Williams said. "He's a hustle guy and he's shown that all year. He plays solid defense and he goes in and plays hard. Now we're starting to go to him because he's become a scoring option."

Trailing 83-76 with just under 10 minutes remaining, Millsap scored nine points, while Okur and Derek Fisher buried 3-pointers in a 17-3 surge, giving the Jazz an 93-86 advantage with 4:49 remaining.

After Toronto pulled to within 95-93, Boozer, who hit Utah's final three field goals, opening up a 99-93 advantage. Spain's Jorge Garbajosa, who finished with 10 points, drained a 3-pointer to slice the lead in half.

With a chance to tie, Garbajosa, Ford and Jones missed 3-pointers. Okur converted two free throws at the other end to seal the win.

Dallas 93, Charlotte 85

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Dirk Nowitzki collected 24 points and 14 rebounds for Dallas, which has rebounded from an 0-4 start.

In other games, it was: ; Houston Rockets 97, New York Knicks 90; Phoenix Suns 113, Golden State Warriors 110; San Antonio Spurs 107, Portland Trail Blazers 98; Memphis Grizzlies 95, Orlando Magic 85; Seattle SuperSonics 99, New Jersey Nets 87.

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