Blazers lose their cool
Dunleavy ejected, Malone delivers 23 as Jazz force Game 6
Posted: Wednesday May 26, 1999 01:11 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The stats from Game 5: Six stitches, three bloody cuts, two technical fouls, one ejection, one flagrant foul, too many flying elbows to count and a 17-point victory for Utah.
The Jazz saved their playoff lives for the third time in 11 days Tuesday night, beating the Trail Blazers 88-71 and avoiding elimination in a physical, confrontation-filled game.
"I don't think anything in that game was done intentionally," Portland's Jim Jackson said. "It was just a really, really physical game with some hard play."
Malone had 23 points and Bryon Russell added 22 as the Jazz cut Portland's second-round series lead to 3-2 and forced Game 6 Thursday at the Rose Garden. The Jazz also took back the role of aggressor in the series after being pushed around through three straight losses.
The game featured numerous testy exchanges between players from both teams, which was no surprise after Malone bloodied Grant with an elbow in the first quarter. Malone had already been fined $10,000 by the NBA for elbowing Grant in Game 1 of the series.
"They have some momentum after this," Dunleavy said. "It's our job to take it away from them, however we have to do it."
The Jazz are hoping to become the seventh team in NBA history to recover from a 3-1 deficit to win a series, the most recent being the Miami Heat, who beat the Knicks in seven games in 1997. Utah is 6-1 in the last seven playoff games in which it faced elimination.
"You don't even try to worry about that," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "You try to win, or you go home."
The Blazers, who haven't advanced past the second round since 1992, struggled offensively for the second straight game. Portland shot just 34.3 percent and missed its first seven shots of the fourth quarter.
Utah never trailed and began the second half with a 13-2 run, but the Blazers kept it close behind Rasheed Wallace and Isaiah Rider, who scored half of Portland's 58 points over the first three quarters.
But with nine minutes to play and Portland down 72-58, the Blazers came unraveled. Grant was called for a foul for violently swinging his elbows on a rebound, and after the Jazz missed their next shot and Grant rebounded, he got a taunting technical foul for miming a throwing motion at Malone's head.
When the technical was called, Dunleavy burst onto the court to confront referee Ron Garretson. He was ejected and had to be restrained by two assistant coaches and guard Greg Anthony.
"It was out of frustration, I'm sure," Dunleavy said of Grant's actions. "It was the right call. ... He had guys hanging on him all night, though. My guy gets hit in the head, and he gets the foul. That's what set him off and set me off, too."
Howard Eisley missed both technical free throws, and seconds later, Malone received a flagrant foul for an overzealous pick. But the Jazz pulled away with a 9-3 run shortly thereafter, and Russell's 3-pointer with 1:51 to play sealed the win.
"We might have got a little emotional, but I don't think that was the difference in the game," said Portland's Damon Stoudamire, who had 12 points and six assists. "Mike's ejection might have been taking one for the team. Maybe we needed some emotion."
The winner of the series faces San Antonio in the conference finals.
After winning the first game of the series at home, the Jazz lost Game 2 on a last-second layup miss by John Stockton. Utah then dropped two games in Portland over the weekend, losing three straight for the first time since the 1998 NBA Finals.
Grant, who left the Portland locker room by the back door and avoided reporters, continued his mini-slump by going 1-for-7 from the field and scoring eight points. Grant, Portland's second-leading scorer in the postseason, had just seven points in Portland's Game 4 win.
Compounding Grant's struggles was a nasty cut he received over his right eye after being inadvertently elbowed by Malone on a rebound in the first quarter. Grant left the game and received six stitches, but returned in the second quarter.
Stockton, who had 14 assists, also was cut on his leg during the game. Even a male member of the Utah Starzz Stunt Team, which performed during a break in the action, cut his forehead and dripped blood all over the court when he couldn't quite finish a backflip.
Rider led the Blazers with 16 points, while all of Wallace's 15 came in the first half. Hornacek had 14 for the Jazz.
"They missed a lot of shots out there, just like in Game 1," Sloan said. "I don't think it was anything we did."
For the first time in the series, the Jazz played a strong first quarter, scoring the game's first six points and leading 20-8 just seven minutes in. Malone scored 11 points in the quarter.
Utah shot 63 percent in the first half and was up by 14 early in the second quarter, but the Blazers kept it close and cut their deficit to 49-42 at halftime when Adam Keefe's jumper came after the buzzer.
Notes: While leaping into the stands to save a loose ball in the fourth quarter, Thurl Bailey nearly landed on millionaire Utah banker Spencer Eccles in his courtside seat. ... Several hundred seats in the Delta Center's lower bowl were empty at tipoff. Jazz officials thought the 6 p.m. MDT start time, as opposed to the 8:30 start of Games 1 and 2, made many fans arrive late. The arena eventually filled to overflowing. ... Referee Dick Bavetta worked the game. He was once a favorite among the hecklers who sit behind press row in Salt Lake, but in Game 6 of last year's NBA Finals, the good-natured Bavetta made two crucial calls against the Jazz. A year later, hecklers still begin jeering Bavetta before the game starts. ... Of the 131 teams to have faced the 3-1 deficit, and only six have come back to win the series.
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