Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap battles for the ball with the Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom, left, during Wednesday's game.

Paul Millsap doesn't blame it on that, "but I've been real sick these past playoffs. I felt real good (Wednesday) and had a good practice the day before that, so that always helps out."

Millsap got well just in time for the Utah Jazz as starting power forward Carlos Boozer has been saddled with foul trouble and stretches of ineffectiveness on offense.

Millsap played 29 minutes Wednesday in the Jazz's Game 2 loss at Los Angeles, scoring 17 points, his best total since Feb. 27, and grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds, six off the offensive glass and his best since March 8.

"Paul and Kyle (Korver, backup shooting guard) carried us and kept us in the game that first half," said Jazz point guard Deron Williams at Thursday's practice. The Jazz and Lakers play Game 3 tonight at 7 in EnergySolutions Arena.

"Without those guys," Williams added, "we probably lose by 20 or 30.

"Jarron (Collins, backup center), even though he didn't score, played great — his help defense, taking charges, things we need out there on the floor."

Utah got 33 points, 20 rebounds and five assists off the bench, production it needs if Boozer continues to struggle and because the Laker bench contributes well.

"It's amazing what work does for you," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Millsap, whose desire helped him score underneath despite the Lakers' longer, taller defenders.

"He's working his butt off to try to get the ball," Sloan said of Millsap, who may have bought himself more minutes with Wednesday's performance. "He's going after the basketball on the boards. That's how you get yourself acclimated. When you do that, you get more opportunities."

"I know Boozer is going to come back with his A game; he's going to step up for us," said Millsap. "I felt like that's my job to come out there if he gets in trouble and try to back him up and do the best I can."

Millsap just tried to be aggressive in Wednesday's game. "We just need somebody to go in there and try to be strong and take it to the hole," he said.

Millsap said his 7-for-13 shooting was a little lucky. "Sometimes that's just how the ball drops. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it don't. Last night it did."

He said the Lakers are less physical inside than the Houston Rockets, but the Lakers are more intense, and Utah needs to match that.

"They have more length than Houston did," added Korver. "I think that made it tough for our big guys down low finishing over the top of them.

"Pau Gasol may have the longest arms on this planet."

Some of Korver's 10 points Wednesday came differently than usual, as he made several back-door cuts.

"The way they've been playing me, they've just kind of been face-guarding me, trying to make it harder for me to come off down-screens," he said. "So last night, I had a couple things going back-door. We had one play that was set up for it and then got a couple more just within the flow of the offense, and hopefully we'll try to do more of that."

Known for his outside shooting, Korver liked driving early. "It just helps you kind of get in the flow. It settles you down a little bit," he said.

With both Boozer and center Mehmet Okur in foul trouble, Collins saw 11 minutes, the most he's played in the 2008 postseason.

"They dusted me off," he said. "I don't even know when the last time I got a few minutes was. It's a difficult situation."

He played less than 6 1/2 minutes total in the playoffs until Wednesday. "I just wanted to get out there — I can play in this league — and do what's necessary to help my teammates.

"We need hustle plays, and that's what I tried to come in and do."

A former starter, Collins said he's still ready. "My confidence has never waned. Just go play basketball. That's what I have always done and will continue to do."


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