For the whole fourth quarter Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena, Andrei Kirilenko's teammates were trying hard to get him the triple-double that had eluded him by two rebounds on Friday night in Seattle.
He came into the fourth quarter Saturday with 10 points, nine assists and eight rebounds and quickly picked up three rebounds in the first couple of minutes, leaving him just that lone assist away.
He never got it. In a blowout Jazz win over Memphis, 118-94, Kirilenko totaled 15 points, tying his season high; a dozen boards, a season-high by three; nine assists; four steals to tie his season-high; and a blocked shot.
"Yeah, last quarter we've been chasing it, but it's all right," Kirilenko said.
On Friday, he had 10 points, career-high 11 assists, eight rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
"We'll take it average per game," a happy Kirilenko said. "Last couple games, both times," he said, mentally adding it all together and dividing by two and coming out with an average triple-double.
Someone said, "Almost."
"Not almost. It is," he said, playfully wanting a little credit after spending some time in the training room getting treatment for what he called "skid marks," the floor burns and scrapes that come with his all-over-the-court game. "Well, game to game you get more and more," he said, pointing to the burns.
Kirilenko, known so much for his many "five-by-five" games five categories with five or more markers in them has had two career triple-doubles, the last on March 25, 2006, when it included 10 blocked shots. The last two nights, he's fallen ever so short of another.
In a rare runaway victory, the Jazz could play around at trying to get Kirilenko triple-double No. 3.
"Whole team was looking for that, and I've been chasing that for whole fourth quarter, but it's a game. You can't really predict what's going to happen, so that's why it's interesting to play," Kirilenko said.
"Like last game last night, you can see I get like seven assists in five minutes. Today you're chasing for 10 minutes, you couldn't get an assist. But it's all right."
He was close to getting that elusive assist a couple of times. One time, Carlos Boozer went for a layin and was fouled and missed, so no assist.
And Kirilenko and Gordan Giricek ran the floor after a steal in the fourth quarter, but Kirilenko ended up having to make the layup.
"Well, if he'd thrown it a little bit early, I would give him back, but you know like can't really pass it when I'm under the basket," Kirilenko said with a wide grin. "It's all right. We've been teasing him about it."
"He has to earn it," said Giricek, adding, "If I would think about it, I would probably do it differently."
Even without official triple-doubles, Kirilenko has been important for the Jazz, who are now 5-2.
"Andrei, he's played terrific as of late," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He's made some terrific passes.""Oh, he's been phenomenal. He's been great," Boozer said. "AK's had a great attitude. He's been working hard, he's been doing everything. It seems like he's everywhere on the court. I know I said that last night, too, but he has been everywhere. He's getting steals, he's getting blocks, he's getting rebounds, he's scoring, getting assists, making his free throws, he's sharing the ball. He's playing terrific."
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