Jazz 105, Hornets 104


OKLAHOMA CITY – Andrei Kirilenko had 25 points and nine rebounds and Deron Williams hit two free throws with 18 seconds left as the Utah Jazz beat the New Orleans Hornets 105-104 Friday night to pull closer in the race for the final playoff spot in the West.

Chris Paul had two chances to win the game for the Hornets but was unable to convert, and New Orleans suffered a brutal loss that put their playoff chances on life support.

Kirilenko blocked a driving layup by Paul in the final seconds, but Paul was able to get the rebound on the floor and call timeout with 1.8 seconds to set up his final shot.

He then took an inbounds pass from Kirk Snyder and leaned into Williams but his right handed attempt missed the rim. Kirilenko grabbed the ball as stunned Hornets players looked for a foul call.

The Hornets wore white jerseys with Oklahoma City on the front for their final regular-season game here. They had been wearing jerseys with Hornets on the front for all home games.

Utah moved within one game of eighth-place Sacramento for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with three games left. New Orleans is two games back of Utah and three behind Sacramento. The only way the Hornets can make the playoffs is by winning its final three games while the others lose their last three.

Carlos Boozer added 23 points for the Jazz and Mehmet Okur scored 20 but saw his streak of four straight double-doubles end. Utah’s winning streak reached five.

David West had 31 points – the second-highest total of his career- and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead New Orleans.

He hit two free throws with 4:02 left to put New Orleans into the lead, then rebounded and put back Rasual Butler’s missed 3-pointer on the Hornets’ next possession for a 100-97 edge before the Jazz rushed back with six straight points.

Kirilenko put Utah up 103-100 when he took an inbounds pass and banked in a layup but the Hornets got two free throws from Speedy Claxton and Desmond Mason for a 104-103 lead.

Okur missed two 3-pointers for Utah, but the Jazz rebounded both and Williams sank two free throws that ended up being the game-winners.

The Jazz moved above .500 for the first time since Jan. 20, when a loss to Denver dropped them to 20-20.

Boozer’s layup capped a run of seven straight Jazz points as Utah cut New Orleans’ lead to 55-50 in the third quarter.

After a two-handed alley-oop dunk by Mason and a right-handed putback jam by West, Kirilenko scored layups on consecutive possessions to start an 11-3 run completed by Okur’s free throw that made got Utah within 73-72.

The Jazz took their first lead since the opening minute when Boozer drove for a layup that made it 89-88 with 7:41 to play. Snyder drove for a two-handed dunk that provided the first of eight lead changes down the stretch.

Notes: It was the first time the Jazz played a game decided by three points or less this season. … New Orleans forward Aaron Williams sat out after injuring his right knee Wednesday against Seattle. … The Hornets had their 18th sellout in 36 Oklahoma City games, finishing with average attendance of 18,717. … The Jazz were outrebounded for the first time in 16 games, with the final margin 39-37.

AP-ES-04-14-06 2253EDT