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With return to Utah, Jazz roll, Duncan struggles

Sunday, May 27, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:12 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY — Back in the comfort of home, the Utah Jazz found what they were lacking in the first two games of the Western Conference finals: Confidence, defense and scorers other than Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams.

Williams and Boozer still led the way, but it was the play of their teammates that carried Utah past San Antonio 109-83 on Saturday night, and cut the Spurs lead in the series to 2-1.

“This does a world of good for our confidence,” said Williams, who had 31 points and eight assists.

Boozer had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Utah’s supporting cast came to life during a game-changing 12-3 spurt in the second quarter, keeping the Jazz perfect at home this postseason at 7-0 and making them 3-0 against the Spurs in Salt Lake City this season.

San Antonio’s Tim Duncan got in foul trouble early and never recovered. Although he didn’t foul out, he played tentatively and wound up with 16 points and eight rebounds. He also had eight turnovers as his run of 20-point, 10-rebound games ended at 11 in a row.

“It’s tough to get going and to stay aggressive when you have fouls like that,” Duncan said. “They just played a better game than us for a long time. They were aggressive, they were physical, their guys shot well. They had a lot of things happening for them.”

Utah’s win means there will be no sweep, and this may yet turn into a competitive series after two lopsided games in San Antonio. The loud Jazz fans in their “Think Blue” T-shirts can now start dreaming of their team being the first to overcome an 0-2 deficit in the Western Conference finals. Why not? They’ve already dug out of such a hole once this postseason, against Houston in the first round.

And they get to play another game in Salt Lake City on Monday night. This victory by Utah guarantees there will be a Game 5 in San Antonio on Wednesday night.

“Despite all the odds, we’re still here playing,” said Williams, showing no effects of a hard foul that sent him to the bench for good with 3:50 left and the outcome decided.

Andrei Kirilenko, Jarron Collins, Gordon Giricek, Derek Fisher and Matt Harpring all pitched in for the Jazz in Game 3, providing the help Boozer and Williams needed back in San Antonio.

Mehmet Okur was scoreless in 21:05, but it didn’t matter. Besides, he contributed by helping draw some of the fouls on Duncan and forcing some turnovers.

“Mehmet did an excellent job,” Duncan said.


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