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Jazz crush Bobcats behind 32 points by Okur

Jazz crush Bobcats behind 32 points by Okur



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mehmet Okur scored 32 points as the Utah Jazz defeated the Charlotte Bobcats for the first time at home 120-95 Monday night.

In just 31 minutes of play, Okur tied a career high with 13 field goals in 15 attempts, most of them on perimeter jump shots. Reserve Matt Harpring continued his scoring outburst with 19 points and has averaged 16 during Utah's current four-game winning streak.

Late last month, back spasms snapped Okur's streak of 233 consecutive games played. When he returned, his shot was off-target and he made just 13 of 41 field goals in his first three games back.

Following up a 28-point effort against New Orleans, Okur made all six of his shots in the third quarter as the Jazz extended their lead to 19 points

Even when he missed, he made something good happen. Midway through the fourth quarter, Okur missed a wide-open jumper from the right side, but grabbed the rebound and fired a no-look pass to Harpring for a layup and a foul. The resulting free throw gave Utah a 103-83 lead.

Gordan Giricek, also in the midst of his highest scoring stretch of the season, scored 15 points for the Jazz.

Charlotte won in both of its previous visits to Salt Lake City.

Gerald Wallace scored 33 points, but no other Bobcat scored more than 12. The Bobcats, who are in the fifth game of a six-game Western Conference road trip, are mired in a six-game losing streak.

Wallace scored almost at will, but the rest of the team shot 21-of-54. The Bobcats led by five in the opening moments, but Okur fed Andrei Kirilenko for a layup that capped a 10-1 Utah run and the Jazz never trailed again.

Raymond Felton had 12 points and Walter Herrmann added 10 for Charlotte.

Without injured power forward Emeka Okafor, the Bobcats are 0-5 and giving up an average of 116 points a game. Charlotte has lost nine of its last 10 games.

The Bobcats' defense missed Okafor as the Jazz ran their trademark precision plays and shot 56 percent while accumulating 29 assists.

The Jazz, who have won five of six and 12 of 14 overall, also outrebounded the Bobcats 48-21.

Game notes: Although Okafor will miss at least the next two games, an MRI exam revealed he will not need surgery as originally feared ... The Jazz lost 101-89 in Charlotte on Dec. 22 when Matt Carroll scored all 16 of his points in the fourth quarter ... Utah has won its last four games by an average of 20.3 points ... The Jazz outscored the Bobcats in every quarter and improved to 31-3 when leading after three quarters ... Charlotte assistant coach John-Blair Bickerstaff got a technical foul in the fourth quarter that was initially given to his perplexed father, head coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

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