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Boozer leads Jazz to playoff series win over Nuggets

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The Sports Network
5/1/2010 2:14:15 AM
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Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - Carlos Boozer scored 22 points and pulled down 20 rebounds, and the Utah Jazz advanced to the second round of the postseason by pulling away for a 112-104 Game 6 win over the Denver Nuggets to complete their Western Conference quarterfinal series at EnergySolutions Arena.

Foul trouble and injuries played a significant role in the series-clinching victory, a game in which rookie Wesley Matthews stepped up and scored 23 points for the Jazz, who shot 34-of-51 from the foul line.

Deron Williams was held to 14 points and 10 assists, while Paul Millsap tallied 21 points and 11 rebounds off the bench in the victory.

Utah will next face the defending NBA champion Lakers, who closed out their first-round series against Oklahoma City with a thrilling 95-94 Game 6 win on Friday. The series, which is the third between the teams in as many years, will start on Sunday afternoon.

Chauncey Billups scored 30 points and handed out eight assists for the Nuggets, but had his streak of seven straight conference finals appearances snapped with the early exit.

"I knew we were going to have a tough time covering their halfcourt offense because it's so thorough," Billups said. "I also knew that we should be able to run on them. We were able to run on them every time we played them during the season. Unfortunately, the thing I didn't anticipate is us being in foul trouble so much because it stops your run."

Carmelo Anthony ended with 20 points on 6-of-22 shooting to go with 12 rebounds for Denver, which was without starting center Nene (knee), but got 21 surprising points from Joey Graham to stay close.

Nonetheless, Denver made a first-round exit for the sixth time in seven years.

The Northwest Division champions staved off elimination with a 116-102 win on Wednesday and kept it a one-possession game for the opening 5 1/2 minutes of the final stanza on Friday.

An Anthony bucket tied things at 95-all prior to a game-altering 11-0 Jazz spurt, which Millsap started with a three-point play near the midway point.

The final nine points in the stretch came from the charity stripe, as Denver was called for two technical fouls in the two-minute span.

A pair of Matthews makes at the line made it 106-95 with under 4:23 to play, and Ronnie Price's reverse layup answered a Billups make for a double-digit game again.

After exchanging free throws, Billups and Anthony missed three-point tries on Denver's next two possessions. Graham hit a layup with 1:47 left to cut the deficit to 109-100 and forced a quick turnover.

However, Billups missed a layup in transition and Millsap grabbed the rebound with 1:28 left. Denver was forced to foul the rest of the way, and the Jazz were more than willing to seal the win and the series at the foul line.

"I'm terribly excited about the way these guys played, the effort they put in to win a ball game," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We started off this series and were in tough position because we lost two guys (Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko) who couldn't play. But the guys came in and played in their place and I thought did a terrific job."

Utah was on top 32-23 after 12 minutes and increased the margin to 50-35 on a Kyle Korver jumper just past the midway point of the second.

Nuggets interim head coach Adrian Dantley was whistled for a technical foul shortly thereafter for arguing an offensive foul called on Anthony. Korver hit the freebie for a 53-39 scored with 4:13 left in the half, but the events apparently sparked the Nuggets, who scored the next 13 points.

Graham, who did not play more than three minutes in any of the previous games in the series, netted the final 11 in the flurry, the final points coming off a putback of his own miss to cut the deficit to 53-52 in the final minute.

The foul-filled first half ended with Utah clinging to a 56-54 edge.

Denver built on the momentum by scoring the first 10 points out of the locker room, the last six coming off consecutive Billups three-pointers for a 64-56 advantage.

The Jazz answered with a 13-3 spurt to take the lead back, 69-67, on Boozer's deep jumper near the midway point. It was back-and-forth from there, with Kosta Koufos' putback just before the buzzer giving the Jazz a 83-80 lead.

Game Notes

The Nuggets ended a streak of five consecutive first-round exits last season by reaching the conference finals. They are now 0-10 when trying to erase a 3-1 deficit to win a seven-game playoff series...Williams had recorded at least 20 points and 10 assists in each of the first five games of a playoff set, the first NBA player to accomplish such a feat...Utah has won three of four playoff series all-time against Denver...Price had 12 points for the Jazz, who shot 52.2 percent from the field...J.R.Smith ended with just three points for the Nuggets, who made 27-of-40 from the foul line...The Nuggets turned 19 Jazz turnovers into 32 points...Okur (Achilles) is out for the entire postseason, but Kirilenko, rehabbing a calf injury, may return against the Lakers.

Carlos Boozer (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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