Utah Jazz blow big lead, tied with Toronto at halftime
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — In a crazy turn of events, the Utah Jazz and Toronto Raptors are deadlocked at 50-all at the half of their game tonight.
Sparked by a strong first quarter by backcourt starters Devin Harris and Raja Bell, the Jazz raced out to a 32-14 lead. Harris had 12 points and Bell added eight as Utah held onto a 32-23 advantage heading into the second quarter, even after Toronto scored the last nine points of the period.
The second quarter, though, was all Toronto. The Raptors outscored Utah 27-18 and even took the lead, completing a 19-point turnaround.
Forward Andrea Bargnani, coming off of a 36-point night in Phoenix during the Suns' win Tuesday, scored 12 points in the first half to lead Toronto. The 5-13 Raptors lost eight straight, including six without him, before the versatile 7-footer returned to their lineup in Phoenix. Toronto's bench gave it a big lift, with Leandro Barbosa scoring 10 points and Linas Kleiza adding eight.
Harris has a dozen points and four assists to top 10-5 Utah, which has had the past three days off. Paul Millsap added 11 points and six rebounds.
The Jazz are playing without starting center Al Jefferson, whose right ankle became inflamed during shootaround.
Second-year big man Derrick Favors got the start in Big Al's place, and totaled seven points with five boards in the opening half.
Josh Howard also made his return to the court after missing the past four games with a strained left quadriceps muscle. He was scoreless in six-plus minutes.
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