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 Kirilenko returns to spark Jazz over Grizzlies

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PostSubject: Kirilenko returns to spark Jazz over Grizzlies   Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:30 pm

SALT LAKE CITY(AP) Andrei Kirilenko was so exhausted he didn't know if he had the energy to celebrate his 28th birthday."I
am so tired,'' Kirilenko said after a deep sigh. "But today is a triple
joy. I came back from my injury, we win and I have a birthday.''Kirilenko
returned from an ankle injury to spark a key fourth-quarter run and
help the Utah Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies 117-99 Tuesday night.
C.J. Miles scored 24 points and Deron Williams had 20 points and 15
assists."No pain in my ankle at all but I had pain trying to
breathe,'' Kirilenko said. "I felt I couldn't catch my breath. I was
expecting a little less time but I felt pretty good in my play.''The
Russian forward had surgery Jan. 30 to remove bone fragments from his
injured right ankle and returned a couple weeks ahead of schedule to
spark the Jazz, who won the fifth game in their last six and are eighth
in the Western Conference."He made a big steal and then on the
other end he had a big basket and then blocked a couple shots. That's
something we missed when he's not around,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.Clinging
to a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, Kirilenko had three
baskets, two steals and a block in a game-breaking 20-4 run that put
Utah up 110-90 with 3:43 left to play."I almost fell down on
that last steal and I thought if I fall down now, I might not be able
to get up. I was so tired but it was pretty important to have that
stretch in the fourth quarter where we kept getting our hands on the
ball,'' Kirilenko said.Despite his third straight double-double,
Williams' five-game streak of brilliant shooting came to an end.
Williams was the first guard since Michael Jordan in November 1996 to
score more than 30 points on better than 50 percent shooting for five
consecutive games. He shot 7-of-18 against Memphis."It was
fun,'' Michael Conley said of his matchup with Williams. "Deron is one
of the best point guards in the league and a guy I look up to and try
to learn as much as I can from him.''The Jazz played without
starting center Mehmet Okur, who felt sick at the shootaround and did
not return to the arena for the game. Miles tried to pick up the slack."Hitting
those shots and creating some offense is what I have been trying to do.
I want to be the spark that gets us going especially when we were
missing Memo's shooting from the perimeter,'' Miles said, after falling
just one point short of his season high.The Grizzlies hung with
Utah until fading in the fourth and actually led 43-36 after Gay's dunk
midway through the second quarter. The Jazz had five turnovers and five
fouls at that point in the quarter to go along with 1-of-10 shooting
and three points."We were so sloppy and they outhustled us all over the court in the second quarter,'' Miles said about the Grizzlies' 18-3 run.But
Williams rallied the Jazz to a 56-all tie at halftime and the Jazz
never trailed again. Ronnie Brewer scored 17 of his 19 points in the
first two quarters to help the Jazz keep pace.The Grizzlies
outrebounded the Jazz, 41-37, and had more points in the paint but
could not overcome their 19 turnovers which led to 26 Jazz points. Many
of the miscues come with Kirilenko's defense and long arms interrupting
the Memphis offense."When you play a quality team you can't keep
giving the ball to them,'' Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "You have
to make them earn everything.''Notes: The Boston Celtics, who
play the Jazz on Thursday, are already in town and practiced Tuesday.
Glen Davis watched the game a few rows behind the Jazz bench. ...
Jarron Collins got his second start of the season and scored all of his
season-high eight points in the third quarter. ... The Jazz made 32 of
33 free throws. ... Carlos Boozer, who has only played in 12 games this
season, originally targeted the Memphis game for his return from left
knee surgery but has now backed away from a firm date.

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