CLEVELAND They won a close one Wednesday in Toronto, escaping with a four-point victory after T.J. Ford missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds left.
Back before steamrolling Memphis and Sacramento, part of their ongoing five-game win steak, the Jazz also went down to the wire in wins over Seattle and Cleveland.
Against the Sonics, Deron Williams fed Carlos Boozer for the game-winner off a pick-and-roll. And against the same opponent they face again tonight, LeBron James and the Cavs who can forget so soon? Williams merely went the length of the floor for a winning final-seconds layup.
Living so dangerously, Boozer suggested after Utah's latest great escape, is not necessarily a bad thing.
"Eighty-five, 90 percent of the games in the NBA are gonna come down to the last three or four minutes," said Boozer, the Jazz's leading scorer with a 25.9 points-per-game average after putting up 23 against the Raptors. "There are not gonna be a lot of blowouts in the NBA.
"But," Boozer added, "that's good ... because that's what the playoffs are like. Playoffs are all close games."
So even though three of their last five victories have been by a combined eight points, Jazz teammate Andrei Kirilenko agreed, it all adds up to a positive sign."It's always a big deal," Kirilenko said, "when you play at the end against good opponents."
BOOZER BACK: Boozer was showered with boos here back in March, when he played his first game since leaving the city and the Cavaliers for Utah under controversial contractual circumstances in 2004.
Fans even held signs that said "LIAR" and "BENEDICT BOOZER."
This time around, Boozer expects nothing less.
"I'm not worried about it," he said. "I'm sure it will be similar to last year."
And just how bad was it last season?
"For every fan that misses me," Boozer said at the time, "there are probably 10 or more that wish they could shoot me."
Boozer who maneuvered out of his contract with the Cavs and signed a six-year, $68 million deal with the Jazz wound up with a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double that night, but Cleveland beat Utah 82-73.Injuries kept the power forward out of games against the Cavs during his first two seasons with the Jazz.
STYLE POINTS: Utah's 92-88 win at Toronto marked the first time this season that the Jazz have won without going over the century mark.
So it goes, Williams suggested, as the Jazz play out their first road game against Eastern Conference opponents, one which concludes with a Saturday visit to Indiana."It's a different type of team than we've been accustomed to playing," Williams said. "You know, a lot of teams we've been playing are just run-and-gun. So, (now we) come over East and play some teams that are more physical, slow-down pace style basketball."
HARPRING PRACTICES: Jazz backup small forward Matt Harpring practiced Thursday, one day after missing Utah's win at Toronto due to an apparent stomach visit.The Jazz are listing Harpring as a "game-time decision" for tonight's game against Cleveland.
HURTING ALUMNI: Three ex-Jazz players now with the Cavaliers are just a bit banged up. According to Thursday's Akron Beacon Journal:
• "The clicking and popping continues in Donyell Marshall's wrist, so he remains sidelined. Marshall missed a seventh consecutive game Wednesday (vs. Orlando), resting his right wrist, and there is no timetable for his return ... A source said it appears Marshall probably will need surgery at some point, but he's hoping that rest and treatment will allow him to get through the season;
• "Sasha Pavlovic returned Wednesday after missing two games with back spasms; (and)• "Devin Brown continued to play despite a fractured left pinkie finger, which is now crooked. He also has been dealing with a sore left knee from a collision with Brad Miller of the Kings in Sacramento last week."
TRAVEL WEARY: According to the Associated Press, the Cavs including their recent preseason trip to China and a recently completed six-game Western swing have "logged more than 23,000 miles, taken 13 flights, played 12 games and visited 11 cities in less than a month."