Utah stay sharp with win over Hornets

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Utah maintained their recent hot streak with a 98-90 victory over the New Orleans Hornets Wednesday, earning the Jazz an 11th win in their last 12 games.

Paul Millsap scored 24 points off the bench and Carlos Boozer added 16 and 15 rebounds to spark his team in the fourth quarter where they were pressed by the Hornets.

With the game tied 85-85 late in the final quarter, Boozer scored six points during a quick 9-2 run to help Utah close out the game.

Peja Stojakovic and rookie Darren Collison had 24 apiece but could not prevent the Hornets from losing for the fifth time in seven games.

New Orleans are 3-5 since All-Star guard Chris Paul went down with a knee injury. Paul is expected to be out at least another three weeks.

While the Hornets' (28-26) decline continues apace, the Jazz (34-19) have climbed to third on the Western Conference ladder.

"We're learning how to win and learning how to play things out," Utah coach Jerry Sloan told reporters.

"Our team hasn't really had to gut things out. I think they're doing a better job of having to do that and playing better defense at times and giving themselves a chance to win."

Point guard Deron Williams, who made his first All-Star appearance last weekend, tallied 16 points and 10 assists.

"I was just trying to get everyone involved," Williams said. "I had the turnovers early and makes me a little tentative because I didn't want to keep doing it. Second half I just came out and wanted to be aggressive and get going a little bit."

Utah shot 54 percent, largely on the strength of Millsap's 11-for-13 effort.

The Jazz trailed for much of the first half then established a nine-point lead with a run midway through the third.

The Hornets yielded another strong effort from Collison, who is starting in place of Paul. The first-year player entered the night averaging 19.3 points and 9.5 assists in the lead guard position.

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Ian Ransom)