With the way things were going for the Jazz on Friday night, it was no wonder Ron Artest was screaming like a madman.
Carlos Boozer, after all, merely hit his first 13 straight shots from the field en route to a scoring a game-high 33 points. Andrei Kirilenko only scored a season-high 25 points, and tacked on a line of six rebounds, six assists and four blocks. And Deron Williams just wound up with 16 points and 14 rebounds, marking his 21st double-double of the season.
The Jazz really did have things fall wonderfully into place during a 127-113 win over Artest and his Sacramento Kings, allowing them to improve to 25-18 overall and 18-3 at EnergySolutions Arena where they've now won eight straight games, matching their longest home winning streak of the season.
"Guys stepped up," Williams said.
"The great part about it," said Boozer, who also pulled down 10 boards for his 30th double-double of the season, "was everybody contributed."
The funny part about it, though, was that it was only after Artest started with his over-the-top antics that the Jazz could be sure they wouldn't give one away to the Kings.
It was when Artest tipped in his own miss to pull Sacramento within one at 77-76 with four minutes and 26 seconds to go in the third quarter that the highly emotional Kings standout started with his outlandish yelling.
By the time he was done, a constantly yelping Artest would thump his chest numerous times, snatch the ball from a fan's hand, and finally push and shove his way into two technical fouls, the second of which resulted in his expulsion with 4:34 remaining and the Jazz comfortably up at the time 114-110.
Overlooked amid his wacky antics, though, was the fact the Jazz went on a 9-0 run after his first shouted out loud giving Utah just the sort of separation it needed against an 18-24 Kings club that back in December used a 43-point fourth quarter to beat the Jazz in Sacramento.
After that run, in fact, the Kings never did get within any closer than seven the final time with 3:23 remaining, which Williams promptly answered by hitting a 21-foot jumper.
"We just let him (Artest) do that. That's him. That's the kind of player he is," Williams said. "He gets riled up, and starts going a little crazy. But we just keep playing, keep fighting, and got the victory."
"I was proud of my teammates," Boozer said, "for keeping their composure, so we could win the ballgame without falling into the trap of trying to go back at him a little bit."
It was Boozer who ultimately was responsible for Artest's ejection, as the two tussled during a free-throw attempt by 15-point bench scorer Kyle Korver and Artest because he had been tagged with his second technical foul wound up getting the heave-ho.
By that time, Boozer was well on his way to a 15-for-19 shooting night whose shot at perfection came to a close only when he missed a reverse layup try his 14th attempt from the field with a second remaining in the third quarter.
Boozer, whose solid and mostly inside shooting help the Jazz finish 57.7 percent from the field as a team, claimed not to know he had made 13-of-13 to that point.
"I didn't know how many I made in a row," he said. "I was just trying to play."
Ditto on the not-clued-in front for Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who insisted his only focus was ensuring that Utah win for the ninth time in its last 11 games overall.
"Sometimes I'm watching the game and I'm not aware of those things," he said. "I know (retired point guard) John Stockton, one time, I took him out of a game. He had about 22 or 23 assists."
You can bet your bottom dollar, though, that Sloan was well aware of Artest and all of his oddball behavior.
"It's not a matter of showing how powerful you are or anything like that," the Jazz coach said. "Just play basketball. That's how you win."
Asked if he thought the referees should have booted Artest much earlier, Sloan said, "That's their decision. That's a $10,000 fine for me, and I don't need it."
The Jazz, though, certainly welcomed all they got from Boozer, Kirilenko and Co. and even the unintended boost from Artest.25 comments on this story
Williams said it best, and as quietly as could be."We knew," he said, "that we needed this win."