Miles scores 40, Jazz rip Wolves 119-104

Published 8:43 am Thursday, March 17, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz coach Ty Corbin wanted to shake things up a bit.

Even he couldn’t have imagined the fireworks that resulted from inserting C.J. Miles into the starting lineup and demoting veteran Raja Bell.

“He was on fire,” Jazz teammate Jeremy Evans said of Miles, who scored a career-high 40 points Wednesday night in Utah’s 119-104 rout of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Even Bell acknowledged the heady move, making sure Corbin subbed out Miles separately late in the game so Miles could take in the standing ovation.

“Everybody deserves that,” Bell said of a round of applause following a stellar effort. “That’s cool. I would have wanted it if I had (gone) off like that. I thought he deserved it.”

Miles, who also started Monday night’s overtime win against Philadelphia, hit his first seven shots Wednesday, including his first four from 3-point range. He had 18 points in the opening quarter, his only miss at the buzzer with a defender in his face.

Miles had 25 by halftime, when the Jazz had a 71-50 lead. His previous career high was 29.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Miles, who finished 14 for 18 overall and 6 of 7 from 3-point range.

He thought back to advice from former Jazz 3-point specialist Kyle Korver.

“When it rains, it pours,” Miles said of shots dropping.

Lately, it’s been games the Jazz have been dropping. After a promising 15-5 start, the Jazz fell out of the playoff picture. They entered Wednesday’s game 10th in the Western Conference standings.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” said Andrei Kirilenko, who had seven points in overtime Monday. “We have a lot of changes and right now we’re getting used to each other and we’re getting better and better each game.”

The Jazz improved to 36-33, while Minnesota fell to 17-52.

The game was almost a complete reversal of Friday night’s matchup, when the Timberwolves made their first 11 shots en route to a 121-101 rout in Minnesota.

Yes, there was a desire to avenge that loss.

“More than anything, we need to find our stride, put these last 13 together the best we can and kind of let the chips fall where they may,” Bell said. “That’s all the motivation we should need right now.”

Kevin Love led Minnesota with 22 points and 11 rebounds, but he got going too late to help the Timberwolves, who have dropped two straight.

Love had just two rebounds at halftime.

“He’s a great offensive rebounder so I just made sure I got a body on him,” said rookie forward Derrick Favors, who made his second start in a Jazz uniform in place of injured Paul Millsap. “I hit him first before he hit me and just tried to keep him off the boards.”

Favors finished with 13 points and five rebounds.

Al Jefferson added 26 points and 11 boards for Utah.

But it was Miles who had the biggest impact, scoring from outside and with strong moves to the basket.

“He did a tremendous job of executing the offense,” said Corbin, who won back-to-back games for the first time since taking over last month for Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan.

“He didn’t rush any shots … and he put the ball on the floor some and got to the basket early.”

Utah held a 38-18 advantage in the paint at halftime and led, 71-50. The 71 first-half points were a season high. The Jazz shot 62.2 percent in the first half, while holding the Wolves to 35.6 shooting. Utah also had 28 assists in the game.

“They’re fighting for something and they did a really good job executing their offense,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “They just sliced us apart. Whenever a team gets 60-plus points in the paint scored on you, you don’t give yourself a very good chance.”

The Jazz led by as many as 26 in the first half, and 24 in the third quarter before Minnesota cut Utah’s lead to 92-80 entering the fourth quarter. The Wolves were within 10 points before Jefferson and Kirilenko (15 points) made key plays for the Jazz.

Love, who saw his franchise-record streak of 53 consecutive double-doubles come to an end in Sunday’s loss at Golden State, said the Wolves simply made too many mistakes.

“We got ourselves back in the game but when you dig yourself such a deep hole, then you spend the entire second half trying to fight your way out,” Rambis said. “Our guys ran out of energy.”

Favors set the tone early by blocking a shot by Michael Beasley. By halftime, the Jazz had six block shots, four by Jefferson, who was a rebound shy of a double-double heading into the locker room.

The game was tied at 32 with 39 seconds left in the first quarter after Martell Webster hit a 3-pointer for the Minnesota. But Miles hit his fourth straight 3-pointer to start a 10-0 run that extended into the second quarter.

Rookies Gordon Hayward and Evans kept things rolling for the Jazz in the second quarter. Hayward made two passes inside to Jefferson for dunks, and Evans dunked off a powerful move to the basket to give the Jazz 42-32 lead.

Reserve guard Earl Watson then hit a short jumper and threw up an alley-oop to Evans, whose dunk made it 46-36, Utah.

Back-to-back dunks by Favors and Kirilenko boosted Utah’s lead to 15 points, and Miles converted a three-point play for a 60-40 Jazz lead with 3:58 left in the half.

The 17-2 run continued with two more three-point plays by Jefferson.

The Jazz expect to get Millsap back Sunday when they play at Houston. Miles left little doubt that he’ll be in the lineup.

“You spread it out and just kind of let him shoot it,” point guard Devin Harris said of Miles. “He’s capable of that.”

Notes: Jazz G Harris sat out the fourth quarter to give his sore hamstring extra rest. … The Jazz announced after the game that reserve center Mehmet Okur is out for the rest of the regular season because of continued issues with his lower back and Achilles tendon. … Love recorded his 63rd double-double of the season … The Wolves shot 13.6 percent in the second quarter.