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Jazz rally to defeat injury-depleted Hornets

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- With injuries piling up for the New Orleans
Hornets, Deron Williams propelled the Utah Jazz ahead for a
much-needed victory.

Williams scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and
Andrei Kirilenko had 15 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks to
help the Jazz rally for an 82-76 win against the Hornets on
Wednesday night.

The Jazz entered the game on a three-game losing streak, two
games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final Western
Conference playoff spot and four games behind seventh-place New
Orleans, which comes to Salt Lake City on Saturday to complete a
home-and-home series.

"We needed this one bad," Williams said. "We need these next
two really. We're on the outside looking in right now. We've got 28
games left. We've got to make a run. Getting these two right here
definitely helps our case."

The Hornets made only one of their first 16 shots in the fourth
quarter as the Jazz reeled off a 22-6 run to claim the lead.
Williams, a rookie, had eight points during the run, including a
3-pointer and two long jumpers.

"I've always been impressed with what he's able to do," Utah
coach Jerry Sloan said. "He's just gone through some tough times.
Some players do and some players don't. I think those tough times
are good for him."

Carlos Boozer and Devin Brown added 14 points apiece for the
Jazz.

Already playing without leading scorer David West (personal
reasons) and top reserve Speedy Claxton (ankle), the Hornets lost
two more players to injuries in the third quarter. Starting forward
Desmond Mason bruised his tailbone and Jackson Vroman, who started
in place of West, broke his right wrist as he fell to the floor
following a two-handed dunk.

The Hornets told ESPN Vroman is expected to be out through the end of the regular season.

Neither returned, and the Hornets' lead soon evaporated.

Utah cut a 12-point deficit to 65-57 by the end of the third
quarter.

Brown and Williams scored Utah's first 12 points of the fourth
quarter before Matt Harpring put the Jazz ahead for the first time
on a three-point play that made it 72-71 with 6:38 left.

The Jazz hit three free throws and extended the lead to eight
following baskets by Boozer and Brown before the Hornets finally
broke a scoring drought of more than 6 minutes.

Bostjan Nachbar hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to get New
Orleans within 81-76 in the final minute, but the Hornets couldn't
draw any closer.

Chris Paul finished with 18 points and set a Hornets rookie
record with seven steals. Mason added 14 points before leaving with
the injury, and Nachbar scored 11.

"I missed games and we won. Other guys have missed games and we
won. I think when we're missing guys like that, we all have just
got to step it up a little bit," Paul said.

West, who leads New Orleans with 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds,
missed his second straight game to be with his wife and newborn
child. He was on the active list, but did not arrive at the Ford
Center. The Hornets lost 97-75 to Indiana on Monday in his first
game away.

"We're just trying to adjust to not having him out there,"
Paul said.

He and Claxton, the Hornets' third-leading scorer with
12.6-point average, are both expected to return in time to face the
Jazz on Saturday.

"I'm sure it will be a lot different, but we've just got to do
the same thing as tonight," Williams said. "We've just got to
keep fighting. We got down in the fourth quarter, then fought back
and won."

Utah missed 13 of 16 shots in the first quarter and fell behind
23-12. The Jazz then whittled away at the lead to get within six at
halftime. Kirilenko's fast-break layup early in the third quarter
made it 47-42, but the Hornets responded with a 13-6 run capped by
a three-point play by Kirk Snyder and two free throws from Paul
with 3:23 left in the third quarter.

Game notes
Utah guard Andre Owens will miss the rest of the season
after having surgery to replace a rod in his leg. ... New Orleans
resident Charles J. Southall III and his wife, Lila, watched the
game from courtside as part of an arrangement through ABC's
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" television show. The show is
rebuilding the First Emanuel Baptist Church, where Southall is
pastor. The church sustained more than $500,000 in damage in
Hurricane Katrina. "My wife and I used to do date night at the
Hornets games since they'd been in New Orleans," said Southall,
who had season tickets in New Orleans. "That was the way we'd
spend time together."