Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Jazz took the lead with a dominant third quarter and kept it by grabbing just about every rebound there was in the fourth.
The Jazz beat the New Orleans Hornets 96-86 Saturday night, extending their winning streak to six after overcoming a sluggish start.
"They kicked our behinds pretty good in the first half," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan acknowledged.
The second half was another matter. The Jazz scored the first nine points of the third quarter and never trailed again. Utah also outrebounded New Orleans 30-13 in the second half, stifling any hope of a comeback by pulling down 17 boards in the fourth quarter to the Hornets' six.
It didn't hurt Utah that the Hornets had to run with the Suns the night before in a 104-103 loss at Phoenix, although New Orleans took advantage of Utah's lackluster start and led at halftime.
"We didn't come out with a lot of energy. It seemed like we were the team that was playing back-to-back instead of them," said Deron Williams, who had 13 assists for the Jazz.
Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Mehmet Okur scored 29 points for Utah, going 5-for-7 from 3-point range as the Hornets kept leaving him open outside. Gordan Giricek added 16 for the Jazz, who are 8-2 since the All-Star break and won for the 14th time in 16 games.
New Orleans never recovered after the Jazz opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run.
"We've come out (poorly) the last couple of games in the third quarter," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "That's been our biggest problem. I think guys have been in there jacking around and not thinking about the game. All of a sudden, we get out there and it's too late."
Jannero Pargo scored 15 and Chris Paul had 12 points and 11 assists for New Orleans, which has lost five straight.
Tyson Chandler had six blocks and David West led the Hornets with 10 rebounds, but he pulled down just two in the final period as the Jazz dominated the boards and broke open the game with a 13-3 run.
Matt Harpring and Williams added 10 points apiece for the Jazz.
Utah led 83-75 when the Jazz got an odd three-point play. Desmond Mason and Harpring got their arms tangled in the lane and Harpring crashed hard to the floor as Boozer was making a layup. The shot counted and Mason was called for a flagrant foul. Harpring made the free throw and Utah kept the ball, leading to another layup by Boozer that put Utah up 88-75 with about 4 minutes left.
"That play was a big play. That got us a little bit of life," Sloan said.
Pargo made a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining that got the Hornets within 91-84, but after Williams was way off on a shot, Boozer grabbed the offensive rebound in the final minute to seal it for Utah.
The Jazz scored the first nine points of the third quarter and held New Orleans without a point until Devin Brown made two free throws 3:09 into the period. The Hornets didn't get a field goal until Brown took a steal in for a dunk with 8:33 left in the third.
"When the second half is about to start, you should be lathered up and ready to go," Scott said.
Williams won both the game and the head-to-head battle against Paul, who went one pick later in the 2005 draft when Utah selected Williams with the third overall pick. Both players have tried to downplay any personal rivalry.
"You try to get wins and you try to get your team to the playoffs," Paul said. "Right now he has his team in the perfect situation. They're in the playoffs. They're locked and we're trying to fight to get there." Notes:@ The Jazz won the season series 2-1. ... New Orleans hasn't won since Feb. 28 over Atlanta. ... Giricek made four of his first five shots.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-03-10-07 2301MST