Kings crumble in OT
Jazz escape with 99-92 win, advance to play Blazers
Posted: Monday May 17, 1999 02:04 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The closest thing to a sure thing in the first four games of the nail-biting, breathtaking Sacramento-Utah playoff series was Vlade Divac's hook shot.
So with Game 5 tied at 88, the series tied 2-2 and 10 seconds left in regulation, the Kings went to Divac in the low post.
Sacramento's veteran center calmly dribbled down the clock, turned and shot a right-handed hook over Karl Malone -- and missed, the ball clanging off the right side of the rim as time expired. There was an overtime period to play, but the Kings knew their best chance was gone.
The Jazz began overtime with a 9-2 run and held on to win 99-92, taking the series 3-2 and advancing to the conference semifinals against Portland. The first game is Tuesday at the Delta Center.
After the game, Divac hugged Malone, and in the locker room, he didn't shed a tear. He gamely answered question after question about the last regulation play, taking responsibility for the loss and praising his teammates' play.
"It was my shot, the one we wanted," Divac said. "It was drawn up for me, and everything was perfect. I just missed it."
Divac, a Serbian who plans to become an American citizen this summer, has slept little since NATO began its bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. He planned to make his daily phone calls to his homeland after leaving the Delta Center.
"This is sport," he said. "More important things are waiting for us off the court."
The last four games in the series went down to the final minute of play, and for the fifth time this season, four quarters weren't enough for Utah and Sacramento. Game 3 of the series was won in overtime by the Kings, and all three of their regular-season meetings went to OT.
Karl Malone had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead Utah, which avoided its earliest playoff exit since 1995 and advanced to the second round for the fourth straight year. Jeff Hornacek added 18 points for the Jazz.
Utah blew out the Kings by 30 points in Game 1 of the series, but lost the next two games and stole Game 4 on a last-second jumper by John Stockton.
The young, energetic Sacramento team outplayed the Jazz through much of the series, but Utah, backed by a ferocious crowd, barely managed to rid themselves of the upstart Kings in the finale.
Sacramento's youth showed in the final game, as the Kings shot 41.5 percent from the field and made 20 turnovers. Rookie sensation Jason Williams was a non-factor, going 1-for-6 from the field and finishing with more fouls (5) than points (2).
And in the fourth quarter, with the Jazz crowd at full volume, the Kings were 1-for-6 from the free-throw line. They made just 18 of 30 free throws and went 6-for-29 on 3-pointers.
Once again, the Jazz survived a game it looked like they had no business winning. Despite recording 14 assists, Stockton was 1-for-12 from the field and missed three key fourth-quarter shots, while Greg Ostertag played all of six minutes, during which he somehow made four turnovers.
Malone played well in the first three quarters but disappeared during the fourth, going 0-for-2 from the field and committing two turnovers. Hornacek and Bryon Russell scored Utah's last nine points in regulation.
Vernon Maxwell, one of Sacramento's few veterans, played an outstanding game, scoring 22 points and keeping the Kings in the game in the fourth quarter while playing in place of Williams. Jon Barry's layup with 4:10 to play gave Sacramento an 80-79 lead, its first in the second half.
Maxwell then hit a 3-pointer, and Divac's hook shot put the Kings up 88-85 with 59 seconds to play. But Russell, playing on a sprained ankle, hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game 88-88 with 48.5 seconds left.
After Divac missed an easy inside layup, Stockton was long on a jumper from approximately the same spot from which he won Game 4, and the Kings called a timeout to set up Divac's final shot.
"Karl backed off him a little on that final play, and I think [Divac] lost his balance," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "You need a bit of luck in a game like this."
"I looked at the coach in the huddle. He was talking about sending a man over, but they had a lot of people hitting from outside," Malone said. "I looked at [Sloan] and said, 'Let me play him straight up.' He said, 'OK, but the game is on the line.' To me, that's what it's all about."
In overtime, the Kings finally showed their postseason inexperience, failing to score on five of their first six possessions and giving up several offensive rebounds to the Jazz. Malone and Stockton both hit critical free throws.
Shandon Anderson, whose eight straight points in Game 4 helped the Jazz come from behind, again starred in the closing minutes Sunday. He scored six points in overtime, including Utah's first two baskets of the extra period, and finished with 16 points.
The Jazz began Sunday's game with a 16-3 run, and the crowd was deafening. The noise added another level of tension to an already tense game; Malone, Chris Webber and Corliss Williamson all received technical fouls in the first 1:45, and Ostertag and Divac had a shoving match.
Webber was outplayed by Malone in a matchup of two of the game's top power forwards. Webber spent his fifth straight game in early foul trouble and was 5-for-17 from the field, finishing with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Divac scored 15 points for Sacramento.
Notes: Dozens of fans serenaded the Sacramento bench with bells during every timeout. The Jazz had complained about fans ringing bells behind their own bench at Arco Arena. ... Williams missed his first four shots and had more technical fouls (1) than points (0) in the first half.
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