Utah Jazz too much for pesky Wolves

Published: Thursday, Feb. 26 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

MINNEAPOLIS — Ronnie Brewer probably isn't an avid Dear Abby reader.

But the Jazz's starting shooting guard is willing to heed advice, and that open-mindedness paid dividends as Utah rallied from four down in the third quarter to beat Minnesota 120-103 on Wednesday night at sparsely filled Target Center.

It was the sixth straight victory overall and the ninth in 10 games for the 35-23 Jazz, who remain seventh in the NBA's Western Conference — but now are within a half-game of fifth-place Portland and only a game-and-a-half of fourth-place Houston.

It also was just the third victory in 10 games on the road in 2009 for the Jazz, whose last win away from EnergySolutions Arena prior to Wednesday came nearly three weeks ago in Sacramento.

And all largely because a certain someone listened.

Some suggestion came from Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, who afterward hinted Brewer was simply doing what he should be by rebounding from a scoreless opening half to post 16 of his 20 points in the decisive final quarter.

"In the first half, I was just trying to let the game come to me," said Brewer, who was among seven Jazz scorers to hit double figures, including starting center Mehmet Okur and his game-high 25. "I only took one shot.

"But the second half I started on the defensive end, got a couple steals, got to the basket, started cutting hard. That's just what Coach told me to do. ... It got me going.

So, too, did a three-point play the old fashioned way early in the fourth quarter.

With nine minutes and 47 seconds remaining and the game tied at 87, Brewer was fouled by Craig Smith while banking in a seven-foot jumper from the lane. He hit the free throw that followed, and the Jazz led the rest of the way.

"I was just trying to be aggressive," Brewer said. "D-Will (point guard Deron Williams) always tells me, 'Be aggressive, get going to the basket and that will open up your jump shot.' " In this case, it certainly got Brewer — and the Jazz — headed in the desired direction.

Utah went on a 9-2 mini-run, with Brewer scoring seven of the Jazz's point in the stretch, including an Andrei Kirilenko-fed dunk and, sparked by Brewer's own strip of Mike Miller on the other end, another old-school three-point play.

Minnesota — which got a 24-point, 15-rebound double-double from rookie center Kevin Love — still was within four with 4:29 to go.

But the Jazz reeled off one more tidy run — this one 10-0 with two free throws from Okur, a Williams layup, Brewer's follow of a Kyle Korver miss, two Williams freebies and another two from the free-throw line by Brewer — and that was that.

"Ronnie didn't have a point, didn't have an assist, didn't have a rebound," Sloan said of an opening half after which the Jazz trailed by four. "So you would expect =8Asomething's got to happen.

It did.

"He came alive, and got to the free-throw line, hustled, made plays defensively, finished well," Williams said of Brewer, who along with fellow starters C.J. Miles and Carlos Boozer made 6-of-10 from the field. "He just had a heck of a fourth quarter.

But he didn't do it alone.

All five Utah starters struck double figures in scoring, with Miles offering 15, Williams posting a double-double (his team-leading 28th of the season) with 13 points and just as many assists, and Boozer contributing 12 while logging 22 minutes in his second game after missing 44 straight due to a quadriceps strain and a left knee that needed surgical repair.

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