Boozer's big night helps Jazz win, end 3-game skid

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah coach Jerry Sloan was perplexed.

After losing three straight at the end of a dismal road trip, the Jazz looked like NBA title contenders back at home.

Utah ended a three-game losing streak by beating Phoenix 109-97 on Monday night, outrebounding the Suns 47-26 and holding Shaquille O'Neal to one rebound.

"Where's it been? That's the question I ask," Sloan said. "Where was it? They're expected to do that every night."

Carlos Boozer had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko added 19 points and two big blocks on O'Neal as Utah pulled away in the fourth quarter. The Jazz had their highest-scoring game of the season despite playing again without point guard Deron Williams, who is still recovering from a sprained ankle that has limited him to two games.

The Jazz got O'Neal and Steve Nash into foul trouble and took off from there. The Suns' stars had four fouls just a couple minutes into the third quarter and Nash was called for his fifth before the period was over. Both had to play carefully down the stretch and Utah capitalized with 13 straight points during a 17-2 run that sealed it.

O'Neal finished with one rebound for just the second time in his career.

"I had two quick fouls, so I had to go to my finesse game," O'Neal said.

C.J. Miles scored a season-high 21 points and Brevin Knight had six assists and 12 points, going 6-for-7 from the floor as the Jazz ended a skid that included losses to Washington and Charlotte, who have won a total of four games this season.

So after losing to teams with two of the worst records in the Eastern Conference, the Jazz dominated one of the top teams in the West.

"It was all defense. We got stop after stop after stop," Boozer said. "We get stops, we're good. If we don't get stops, then we get into trouble."

Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 30 points and eight rebounds. Nash had 14 points and eight assists, but O'Neal finished with just nine points and the one rebound -- two fewer than his three free throws.

The Suns were sluggish one night after beating Detroit 104-86 in Phoenix and were outrebounded 16-6 in the fourth quarter.

"We don't really run that well," Nash said. "They're a good running team at home and we're not really a running team at the moment."

Kirilenko had missed the last two games with a dislocated finger, which was still slightly discolored and swollen after the game, but he returned to his new role as Utah's sixth man and flourished again. He went 5-for-10 from the floor and made all eight of his foul shots, then topped off Utah's homecoming by swatting away two shots by O'Neal in the lane with about 5 minutes left.

"We just didn't show a lot of poise during that stretch," Phoenix coach Terry Porter said. "We really seemed to be in a hurry."

The Jazz were playing without starters Williams and Mehmet Okur, but stayed unbeaten at home after going 1-4 on a five-game road trip.

The Suns had won four of five but made it hard on themselves by sending the Jazz to the line 36 times. Utah made 26 free throws and took advantage after Nash went to the bench with his fifth foul with 5:06 still left in the third.

Nash was called for his fifth when Ronnie Brewer was trying to put back a rebound. Nash contended he wasn't the one who hit Brewer and pleaded from the bench for the officials to change the call.

"There was some confusion, maybe. Maybe I was wrong," Nash said. "I still had plenty of minutes out there to make a difference and didn't get it done."

The call on Nash stood and Brewer made both free throws to put Utah up 73-69 and start an 8-3 run for the Jazz, who blew it open in the fourth when the Suns' shooting stalled.

Phoenix opened the fourth 5-for-17 and the Jazz scored 13 straight during a 17-2 run that put away the game. The home fans knew the win was just about wrapped up, then got even louder when Kirilenko blocked O'Neal's shot out of bounds. The Suns got the ball back to O'Neal after the inbounds pass and Kirilenko swatted it away again to the Utah fans' delight.

Game notes
The only other time O'Neal had just one rebound was March 29, 1999, against Vancouver. ... Okur was back with the team but did not play after spending most of last week in Turkey to be with his ailing father. ... Williams missed his ninth game of the season with a sprained ankle from the preseason. ... The Jazz were scheduled to honor Sloan before the game with the game ball from his 1,000th win with the team, but postponed it because owner Larry Miller wasn't feeling well and missed the game. ... O'Neal was fined $25,000 earlier Monday for verbally abusing officials and not leaving the court in a timely manner when he was ejected Sunday.