SALT LAKE CITY -- Deron Williams had 18 points and 10 assists and the Utah Jazz rallied to beat the Boston Celtics 90-85 Thursday night.
Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams, left, strips the ball out of the hands of Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett during the first quarter of the NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009, in Salt Lake City. The referees ruled it a jump ball. [Agencies]
The Celtics were playing for the first time in a week and lost All-Star forward Kevin Garnett late in the second quarter with a strained right knee. Boston led by 11 in the third quarter, but couldn't hold off the Jazz at the end.
Utah outscored Boston 30-19 in the fourth quarter, closing the game on an 8-2 run to split the season series with the defending NBA champion.
Mehmet Okur led Utah with 19 points and reserve Matt Harpring had eight points and a clutch rebound as the Jazz pulled away in the final minute.
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points.
Rajon Rondo added 15 points and seven assists for Boston, which had a giant scare late in the first half when Garnett hopped to the locker room on one foot after injuring his right knee.
Garnett hurt himself while going up for an alley-oop late in the first half. He landed gingerly and motioned immediately to the bench for a substitute. He warmed up with his teammates before the second half, but the Celtics weren't going to take any chances with the superstar for a regular season game when Boston already had the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Even without Garnett, the Celtics managed to pull ahead early in the third quarter despite getting in early foul trouble.
Brian Scalabrine started for Garnett in the third quarter and got four fouls in the first 3:30 of the period. Williams drew the third when he drove the lane and Scalabrine unsuccessfully tried to get a charge call. Williams made both free throws to get the Jazz within 49-47, but the Celtics responded by scoring the next eight points.
Pierce hit a 3-pointer with 7:27 left that put Boston up 56-47 and Leon Powe added two free throws before the Jazz ended the run with a shot by Brewer.
The Jazz got within three or four points several times, but couldn't catch the Celtics until midway through the fourth quarter. Pau7l Millsap tied it at 76-76 when he got Kendrick Perkins to bite on a fake and come down on Millsap as he was taking a jumper that banked in off the glass with 5:44 left in the game, then made the free throw to convert the three-point play.'
Neither team led by more than three until the Jazz pulled away at the end. Harpring's 15-foot jumper to put Utah up 85-83 with 1:01 left, then he pulled down the rebound after Ray Allen missed on a layup. Williams added a jumper from the top of the key to put the Jazz up by four and Utah held on the rest of the way.