Work in Sports
Put away the broom
Seattle avoids sweep with 89-78 victory over Utah
Posted: Sunday April 30, 2000 04:02 AM
SEATTLE (AP) -- Gary Payton insisted all week the Seattle SuperSonics weren't dead. He and his teammates went out and proved it Saturday.
Despite a 30-point performance from Karl Malone, the Sonics stayed alive in the playoffs with an 89-78 victory over Utah that cut the Jazz's lead in the best-of-five first-round series to 2-1.
Game 4 will be in Seattle on Wednesday, and Game 5, if necessary, will be in Salt Lake City on Friday.
Payton scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, while Vin Baker, the Sonics' $87 million power forward who was criticized for his play in Games 1 and 2, added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Seattle, embarrassed by its performances in Utah, outrebounded the Jazz 46-38 as rookie Rashard Lewis had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The difference between the Sonics in Seattle and in Salt Lake City?
"I thought we were a little more aggressive today," Payton said. "When they were hitting us, we were hitting back, and it worked."
Said Malone, who scored 50 points in the playoff opener: "I could have done more. Nobody wants to get swept, especially against a bunch of old guys."
"There was a big sense of urgency today. We didn't want to get swept," he said.
Payton, who shot 8-for-24 from the field, added 10 assists and seven rebounds in 48 minutes, and Utah point guard John Stockton had just four points on 1-for-8 shooting.
"If we put a little more pressure on him, I think it disrupts the offense," said Payton of Stockton, who had 13 assists and two turnovers.
"They outplayed us," Stockton said. "They were aggressive and kept us uncomfortable. We missed some shots early, and that fueled their fire."
Lewis' 3-pointer from the corner with 5:44 left put the Sonics in front 76-61. Brent Barry's 3-pointer with 3:43 remaining put the Sonics ahead 82-62, and he followed that up with another 3 to give the Sonics an 85-64 lead with 3:06 left.
Barry's lip was bloodied when he was hit by Malone's elbow with 8:14 left and Seattle ahead 68-59.
"Our stuff just worked a little better today," Seattle coach Paul Westphal said. "This week was no fun."
After two free throws by Malone cut Seattle's lead to 66-59, the Sonics outscored the Jazz 11-2, with Horace Grant getting the run started with an 18-footer.
Ruben Patterson, who had 13 points, ignited the Sonics in the third quarter, when they expanded a six-point lead to 64-52.
Patterson hit a 12-foot jumper on a fast break as time expired in the quarter, but his most impressive play in the period came when he scrambled on the floor to keep the ball alive before scoring on a putback with 4:27 left. He then made a free throw after being fouled by Greg Ostertag that gave Seattle a 54-46 lead.
"I just try to bring a lot of energy to my team," Patterson said.
In the second quarter, Malone picked up two fouls in 23 seconds and then was called for a technical with 6:13 left in the period. He sat out the remainder of the first half.
With 3:31 left in the second quarter, Greg Foster of the Sonics and Armen Gilliam of the Jazz had to be separated by the officials after getting locked up while Patterson was shooting free throws.
The Sonics led 40-34 at halftime after scoring the first nine points of the second quarter, including a 3-pointer by Shammond Williams.
Utah coach Jerry Sloan refused to blame the four-day layoff from Game 2 to Game 3 for his team's lackluster performance.
"They had the same number of days off as we did," he said. But then he sarcastically added, "We've got a few weeks off before we play again."
Jeff Hornacek of the Jazz said Game 3 was the kind of playoff game he's used to.
"In Utah, we did what we wanted to. You don't expect that in a playoff game," he said. "Tonight is more of what you expect in a playoff game."
Notes: Sloan was whistled for a technical foul with eight minutes
gone in the opening period for protesting too strongly after
Stockton was tied up by the Sonics. ... Baker got the start despite
missing some practice time this week because of the stomach flu.
... The Sonics ended a six-game playoff losing streak, winning a
playoff game for the first time in nearly two years. Their last
playoff victory came May 4, 1998, when they beat the Los Angeles