The Utah Jazz stopped Boston's bid for a fifth successive win on Monday with a 110-97 victory over the Atlantic division leaders. The Jazz were hammered 105-86 by the Celtics on November 11 but turned the tables on the back of 22 points and 11 assists from Deron Williams, and 23 points from CJ Miles. "Boston gave us a lesson in defence over there [in November]," said Jerry Sloan, the Jazz coach. "I thought everybody was focused to try and play the game together tonight."
The Jazz (46-25) trailed by five at half-time but started the third quarter with a 16-4 run. Mehmet Okur, the Jazz centre, grabbed 15 rebounds and scored 11 of his 14 points in the third period. "They started that third quarter pretty electric," said Kevin Garnett, the Boston forward. "As many times as I've played here they have always been able to come back out. They came out with some energy, made shots and executed."
Ray Allen's 15 points led the Celtics (45-25), who could not overcome poor shooting from their key players. Paul Pierce had 11 points. The Celtics seemed to unravel in the second half and Doc Rivers, their coach, was ejected after receiving two technical fouls in the final minutes. Utah closed the gap on Northwest division leaders Denver to one-and-a-half games with the win. Elsewhere, All-Star point guard Chris Paul returned from a 25-game absence following knee surgery to spark the New Orleans Hornets to a 115-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul, who had not played since the end of January, scored 11 points and made three assists in 21 minutes, but his presence sparked the Hornets to snap a three-game losing streak. "We were real pleased he was able to get back on the floor, the poise he showed really carried over to the rest of the team," said Jeff Bower , the Hornets coach. "We won. I was just happy to get out there on the court," Paul said. "I wasn't worrying about scoring or anything like that. I just wanted to try to get the feel back and get the win.
"I asked [the coaching staff], 'could I play more,' but they was like, 'No, no way'," Paul said. "It was like I had a cell phone. At half-time, I kept telling the guys I only had 12 minutes left. That's all I had left on my daytime minutes." Marcus Thornton led New Orleans with 28 points, while Darren Collison, who had stepped in while Paul was recovering, had 16 points and eight assists. "It was great having Paul out there even though he didn't play a lot," Thornton said. "Just having him out there being a floor leader was great. We fed off that." * With agencies