Jazz wait until second half to punish pesky Wolves

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- With six games remaining against teams in playoff contention, the last thing the Jazz needed was a draining game against the lowly Timberwolves.

Mehmet Okur made sure Utah had a relatively easy night.

Okur made four 3-pointers and scored 22 points, leading the Jazz to a 117-100 win over Minnesota. He scored 19 of points and made three 3-pointers in the second half.

"I felt good and everybody did such a great job, especially on the offensive end," Okur said. "We played really unselfish basketball."

Okur credited guard Deron Williams for Utah's stellar play in the second half. The Jazz scored 38 points in the third quarter and shot 62 percent from the field after the break. Williams had 19 points and 14 assists for his 49th double-double of the season.

"D-Will did such a great job," Okur said. "He drove inside and created open shots for us."

Utah won for the 24th time in 25 home games and improved to 34-4 at EnergySolutions Arena this season.

The Timberwolves, who beat Utah on Sunday in Minnesota, gave the Jazz fits again -- if only for a half. Utah led 53-50 at the break after allowing Minnesota to shoot 59 percent from the field in the half. It didn't take long, however, for the Jazz to pull away after intermission.

Okur capped a 9-2 run with a 3-pointer that put Utah ahead, 65-56. The Jazz then put the game away with a 12-2 run that gave them a 79-61 lead with 4:38 left in the third quarter.

Okur made three of his 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the third quarter.

"We stopped playing, I thought, in that third quarter," Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman said. "That group that was out there put their heads down when Okur hit those threes ... I thought we stopped playing for a period of three or four minutes after that onslaught."

Minnesota changed its defense to start the second half after playing the Jazz straight up in the first. The Timberwolves packed the lane, taking away Utah's layups and dunks. The strategy didn't work, mainly because of Okur's shooting.

"It's kind of like pick your poison," Jazz forward Carlos Boozer said. "You give us a layup, we're going to take that. You give us a 3-point shot, we have guys that can make it."

Utah's big third quarter gave Williams, Okur and Boozer the chance to sit out much of the fourth quarter. The rest will come in handy for the Jazz, who close the regular season with two games against San Antonio, and one each against New Orleans, Dallas, Denver and Houston. Utah hosts the Spurs on Friday night.

"It's going to be a tough schedule for us," Okur said, "but at the same time it's a good challenge. We just want to finish the season strong."

For the 10th time this season, the Jazz had seven players score in double figures. Boozer and Ronnie Price each scored 12 points. Andrei Kirilenko scored 13 points.

Marko Jaric led Minnesota with 18 points and eight rebounds. Reserve Rashad McCants had 17 points.

The Jazz salvaged a split of the season series with the Timberwolves with their third straight win over Minnesota at home. The Timberwolves are just 19-55 this season, but they earned the respect of Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

"I really like their team, the way they play, they way they set screens and they knock you around," Sloan said. "They'll be a very good team in a couple of years if you give them a chance to get better, the way they play and the way they execute."

Game notes
Price, Utah's backup point guard, started in place of shooting guard Ronnie Brewer, who missed his second consecutive game with a strained right groin. ... Minnesota fell to 3-40 when trailing after three quarters. ... The Timberwolves are 7-37 against teams with winning records.


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