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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Deron Williams had 27 points and 16 assists, and the Utah Jazz remained within striking distance of the second playoff seed in the Western Conference with a 114-103 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Rookie Wesley Matthews added 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Carlos Boozer had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Utah. Paul Millsap added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz, which led by as much as 21 points in the third quarter but had to hold off a late rally to secure the win.
Darren Collison had 28 points and seven assists, leading a Hornets comeback attempt that trimmed their deficit to five in the fourth quarter before Utah held on. David West had 19 points, Marcus Thornton 15 and James Posey 13.
Utah scored 23 points on fast breaks. Despite being without starting center Mehmet Okur, the Jazz finished with a 56-42 edge in points in the paint and outrebounded New Orleans 41-35. Utah also outshot the struggling Hornets, who've lost five straight, 55 percent to 49 percent.
Utah led by only five at halftime but cashed in when the Hornets struggled to hit shots early in the third quarter. The Hornets opened the period 1 of 7 from the field while Utah launched into an 18-3 run.
Williams scored the first nine points during the surge and 12 in all on a jumper, tip-shot, and several layups, two on which he was fouled and converted three-point plays.
Millsap's reverse layup, set up by Williams' pass, made it 82-61, and it appeared the Jazz were in control.
The Hornets didn't give in, closing the period on a 7-0 run and then opened the fourth with Collison's jumper and his alley-oop lob to Emeka Okafor to cut it to 89-79.
It got as close as 101-96 when Thornton put back his own miss with 4:12 to go, but Williams responded by calmly hitting a 3 from the corner after losing Thornton on a screen. Kyle Korver, who had 11 points, and Matthews each added late 3s to make for a comfortable margin of victory.
Both teams had little trouble scoring in a close first half, when Utah shot 62.5 percent (25 of 40) and scored 32 points inside and 10 points on fast breaks. Utah took the largest lead of the half by scoring the first six points of the second quarter to go up 38-30. The Hornets responded with an 11-2 run, highlighted by Posey's two 3-pointers, to pull ahead 41-40.
Matthews, who came in averaging 9.2 points, scored 13 in the first half, including a 3 and fast-break layup late in the second quarter to help Utah take a 60-55 lead into halftime.
NOTES: The Jazz are 14-8 in their last 22 road games. ... The Jazz have won four straight in New Orleans, the city where they were founded as an NBA club. ... Actor John Malkovich attended his second straight Hornets game in courtside seats and celebrity chef Mario Batali also sat courtside. Batali said one of his first stops in town was Domilise's po-boy shop in the city's Uptown area, where he had a fried oyster po-boy. ... Hornets minority owner and south Louisiana businessman Gary Chouest was at the game. He said, "There's nothing to say at this time" about his negotiations to buy out majority owner George Shinn. Shinn also was at the game, in his courtside seats next to his two sons, wife Denise and Batali.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)