Jazz 104, Nuggets 83

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Carlos Boozer scored 25 points and pulled down 10 of his 13 rebounds in the second half, and the Utah Jazz got back to .500 for the first time in two months by beating the Denver Nuggets 104-83 Wednesday night.

The Jazz improved their playoff chances by beating Denver for the third time this season, although Wednesday’s version of the Nuggets was a very diluted one. Denver used just eight players two nights after clinching the Northwest Division, allowing Kenyon Martin (knee) and Marcus Camby (back) to rest.

Utah’s Deron Williams finished with 14 points and nine assists and Mehmet Okur had 24 points and 10 rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half and added seven assists for the Jazz, who hadn’t been at .500 since they were 25-25.

Utah (39-39) got within 11/2 games of Sacramento for the final playoff spot, although the Kings hold the tiebreaker over the Jazz.

Carmelo Anthony led Denver with 18 points, but didn’t score in the fourth period as the Nuggets were outscored 33-20.

The Jazz outrebounded the Nuggets 47-33 and outscored Denver 58-38 in the paint while winning their fourth in a row, although they let a 13-point lead fall to two in the third quarter before pulling away.

Matt Harpring scored 13 as all five Utah starters finished in double figures.

Linas Kleiza added 16 points and Greg Bucker scored 13 for Denver. Andre Miller had eight assists.

Denver, which is already guaranteed the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference as the division champion, seemed to lose interest early in the fourth quarter. The Jazz, who can’t afford to lose if they want to make the playoffs, pulled away with a 16-2 run early in the final period.

Okur scored six during the run, Devin Brown scored four, outracing Anthony to the basket for a layup, and Kirilenko capped it off with a dunk on a pass from Okur, who was fed by Williams to start the play.

Notes: The Nuggets’ three inactive spots were already full and Eduardo Najera (broken foot) didn’t travel with the team. Without Camby and Martin, only eight Nuggets got in the game. … Miller announced Tuesday a $500,000 donation to the University of Utah, his alma mater. … Anthony joked with referee Bob Delaney that he was watching too close when Delaney called Anthony for stepping out of bounds. … Utah improved to 21-19 at home. The Jazz hadn’t been at .500 since beating Minnesota on Feb. 10.

AP-ES-04-12-06 2337EDT

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