SEATTLE -- All those who thought Kevin Durant is already out of school haven't been watching the teenage star this week.
The SuperSonics' second overall draft choice got a lesson Friday night in the ways the NBA is quickly adopting on how to stymie Durant: The more the lanky rookie stays outside, the more an equally tall defender jumps out to keep his nose in the skinny teenager's chest.
Utah defensive whiz Andrei Kirilenko used that approach to hold Durant to 7-for-21 shooting and blocked Durant's attempt at a game-tying shot in the lane with three seconds remaining to help the Jazz hold on to beat the winless SuperSonics 103-101 on Friday night, Seattle's franchise record-tying sixth consecutive loss to begin the season.
"You need to be close to him. I tried to force myself into him, to make contact," said Kirilenko, who was named to the NBA's all-defensive team two seasons ago. "In the next few years, when he gains weight, it will be very hard to stop him. Right now, he's a little thin, and it's easier to hold him."
Carlos Boozer scored the go-ahead basket over Durant on a pick-and-roll with 17.6 seconds left and finished with 27 points -- 22 in the second half. Boozer also had 15 rebounds for his sixth double-double in six games for Utah, which won for the third time in four games and now heads home to face Memphis and Sacramento.
Yet all Boozer wanted to talk about was Kirilenko, who had 11 assists plus 10 points to go with his pestering of Durant. Deron Williams, whose bounce pass led to Boozer's go-ahead shot at the end, also finished 11 assists and had 14 points.
"He was everywhere," Boozer said of Kirilenko, who at 6-foot-9 is the same height as Durant. "He made Durant take a tough shot."
Kirilenko blocked four of Durant's shots. Twice in the third quarter Durant drove under the basket and had his layup stuffed by Kirilenko.
Durant finished with 20 points but is just 10-for-38 from the field in his last two games. For the second consecutive game, he didn't make his initial basket until midway through the second quarter.
Two nights after saying "I hate losing -- period," and adding he'd never lost five games in row in his life, the 19-year-old left the locker room without saying a word while flanked by a team spokesman.
Maybe Durant should adopt more of the approach of fellow rookie Jeff Green, though Green's relentlessly slashing style is not the game at which Durant is most comfortable right now.
Green, Seattle's fifth overall pick, had an early career-high 19 points off the bench while fearlessly banging into bigger bodies for the young, remade Sonics, who are starting their 41st and perhaps their final season in Seattle in a way that has many locals wishing they were already gone.
They must defeat rugged, playoff-tested Detroit at home Sunday night to avoid setting a dubious team mark to begin a season.
"They're an excellent basketball team," new Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said of Utah. "Hopefully we learned something from them tonight.
Carlesimo was pleased with his team's effort and overall improvement from previous second-half collapses against less-talented Memphis and Sacramento.
"Mostly, we learned something about our team, and it was very good," he said. "If we play that well in April, then I'll be proud."
The Sonics rallied from an 11-point deficit to take an 83-80 lead early in the fourth. Durant hit a runner in the lane while getting fouled, a 3-point play that gave Seattle its first edge since 2-0. But Boozer banged for 11 of Utah's next 20 points to put the Jazz back up 97-93 with four minutes left
Durant missed 11 of his first 15 shots before that 3-point play. He began driving inside more, like Green, after that.
"He didn't shoot well at the beginning. If I was in his spot, I would drive more, too. He did right," Kirilenko said.
Durant blocked a follow shot by Boozer and then sank a shot in the lane to tie the game at 101 with 1 minute to go. But Boozer answered with his decisive drive at the end.
|Andrei Kirilenko's long arms make for a long shooting night for rookie Kevin Durant. (Getty Images)|
|Utah (4-2) «||28||24||26||25||103|
|UTA:C. Boozer 27 Pts
UTA:C. Boozer 15 Reb
UTA:A. Kirilenko 11 Ast
|SEA:K. Durant 20 Pts
SEA:N. Collison 12 Reb
SEA:E. Watson 11 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|D. Williams, PG||40||7-15||0-0||2||11||2||14|
|A. Kirilenko, SF||35||4-9||2-4||8||11||3||10|
|C. Boozer, PF||32||10-19||7-11||15||4||4||27|
|R. Brewer, SG||31||5-8||6-6||3||1||0||16|
|M. Okur, C||30||6-12||0-0||3||0||4||13|
|M. Harpring, SF||17||5-8||1-1||2||1||1||11|
|P. Millsap, PF||17||0-3||1-2||7||0||4||1|
|J. Collins, C||16||3-4||0-1||3||1||1||6|
|G. Giricek, SG||14||2-6||0-0||1||1||0||4|
|J. Hart, PG||8||0-2||1-2||0||2||1||1|
|C. Miles, SG||Did Not Play|
|R. Price, PG||Did Not Play|
|M. Almond, SG||Did Not Play|
|K. Fesenko, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|K. Durant, SF||36||7-21||5-7||5||1||0||20|
|C. Wilcox, PF||32||7-11||3-6||6||2||2||17|
|D. Wilkins, SG||31||4-9||4-5||2||2||2||13|
|E. Watson, PG||24||4-9||0-0||0||11||0||8|
|R. Swift, C||18||0-2||0-0||1||0||4||0|
|J. Green, SF||29||7-12||5-9||4||0||4||19|
|N. Collison, C||27||5-6||0-0||12||0||5||10|
|D. West, SG||24||5-8||0-0||5||1||2||10|
|J. Petro, C||11||1-3||0-0||2||0||3||2|
|W. Szczerbiak, SF||9||0-4||2-2||1||2||1||2|
|K. Thomas, PF||Did Not Play|
|L. Ridnour, PG||Did Not Play|
|M. Gelabale, SF||Did Not Play|
|M. Sene, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|