Work in Sports
Mailing it in
Malone delivers 50 for Jazz as Sonics drop Game 1
Posted: Sunday April 23, 2000 09:26 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The shots came easy for Karl Malone. The deafening ovation was harder to control.
Malone scored a career playoff-high 50 points, breaking a 16-year-old franchise record as the Utah Jazz beat Seattle 104-93 on Saturday in Game 1 of the best-of-five series.
Yet as the final horn sounded, Malone didn't want the spotlight. He waved his arms and vainly urged fans to forget one of the best performances of his 15-year career.
To Malone, the cheers were tempered by his pursuit of another goal.
"Do it when I've done something," he said, recalling what he shouted at fans. "If we win a championship on this floor, be as loud as you want."
Who could blame the fans? The 36-year-old forward was in classic form, almost unstoppable in the second half as he scored 26 points. He was 18-for-32 from the field, 13-for-14 from the line and added 12 rebounds in 43 minutes.
"The thing that's the most disconcerting is that he didn't seem to be any hotter than he usually is," Seattle coach Paul Westphal said. "I think he could go for 50 anytime he wanted to."
Afterward, Malone emphasized that it was a team effort. He also worried that the celebration would motivate the Sonics for Monday's second game, which also is at the Delta Center.
"I'm not in this business to embarrass any other player or any other team," Malone said. "I'm in it to win a championship. However it comes about doesn't matter to me."
Jeff Hornacek added 13 points, and John Stockton had 10. Utah also got seven points and 10 rebounds from reserve center Greg Ostertag, who tied a Jazz playoff record with five blocked shots in the second quarter.
"Greg really had a tremendous game," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "He was effective in blocking shots and intimidating guys. It was great to see him have a game like that."
Gary Payton led Seattle with 24 points. Shammond Williams scored 23, Brent Barry had 11 and Vin Baker 10.
Malone tied his career playoff high of 44 points on two free throws with 4:59 remaining. At the line one minute later, he hit two more to match Adrian Dantley's Jazz record of 46, set in the 1984 playoffs against Phoenix.
Then with 2:29 to play, Malone hit an 18-foot jumper over Baker. It completed a run where Malone scored 13 straight points, including a 3-pointer, to give the Jazz a comfortable 100-88 lead.
"He's the greatest power forward to ever play the game," Baker said. "He was on one of those rolls. I have nothing but respect for the guy. He comes out, plays hard, and if anyone gets in a zone like that, it's hard to stop them."
The Sonics made several runs in the fourth quarter to stay within striking distance. The last time came on a 3-pointer by Williams that trimmed the margin to 100-91 with 1:38 to play.
Ultimately, the only drama as the clock ran down was whether Malone could reach 50, and he did it on a turnaround jumper from the left side with 24.2 seconds remaining.
"They were trying to get me the ball," Malone said. "I wasn't trying to rub anything in. Those were shots I was taking all night."
Utah fans stayed on their feet, cheering Malone until the final horn.
"I thought he had a lot of great defensive plays," Sloan said. "He's had a lot of great games. The guy's unbelievable, really. He's no longer 19 years old, but he comes to play."
The Jazz led 52-49 at halftime, then stretched the advantage to 68-57 with a 12-2 run early in the third quarter. After a 20-second timeout by the Sonics, Utah scored the next three baskets.
Seattle was hurt by six third-quarter turnovers. Malone capped the period by drawing Ruben Patterson into a foul, then hitting two free throws for an 83-68 lead going into the fourth.
Notes: Amid indoor fireworks, the Jazz unveiled their 1999-2000
Midwest Division championship banner before tipoff. ... Malone,
frustrated shortly after receiving a technical foul, pulled the
headset off a courtside NBC cameraman while leaving the floor late
in the first quarter. ... Hornacek replaced Stockton with one
second left in the third quarter. "Defensive purposes," joked
Hornacek, whose gimpy left knee has been exploited by opposing
offenses in recent seasons. ... Utah's Adam Keefe didn't play after
straining his right hamstring in warmups.