Work in Sports
Alive and kickin'
Left for dead, Seattle rebounds to force Game 5
Posted: Thursday May 04, 2000 08:45 PM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gary Payton and the Seattle SuperSonics are returning to the Delta Center, looking nothing like the team that limped away more than a week ago.
The series against the Utah Jazz comes down to Friday night's decisive Game 5 in Salt Lake City.
The series started out easily for the Jazz, who got 50 points from Karl Malone in Game 1 and dominated in Game 2 for a 2-0 lead. Reporters in both cities declared the Sonics as good as dead.
"That's why I don't listen to people in the media. You don't know what's going to happen," Payton said after his first playoff triple-double sealed a 104-93 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday in Seattle.
The Jazz went flat on the road, and the Sonics seized the momentum.
"We want to take that momentum into Utah and hopefully we can steal that game," said Seattle forward Rashard Lewis. "We just have to come out and keep playing aggressive."
The winner advances to play Sunday in Portland in the Western Conference semifinals. The Trail Blazers have been waiting since midweek after eliminating Minnesota.
The Jazz didn't practice Thursday. Coach Jerry Sloan gave his players the day off, perhaps to clear their heads after Utah was called for six technical fouls in Game 4.
Or maybe Sloan thought rest would help the Jazz regain the shooting touch they lost in Game 3.
"When these guys come out and try to play in a tuxedo, that's what I have a difficult time with," Sloan said after Wednesday's game. "Seattle had their work clothes on and they wanted it."
All the Jazz needed was one victory at Key Arena, but they couldn't get it. Utah shot poorly in a Game 3 loss and scored seven points in the second quarter of another loss in Game 4.
The Sonics took credit for both Jazz swoons.
"We won the last two games on the defensive end," Lewis said. "We're rotating and everybody's playing defense, team defense. That's what it's going to take to win the game in Utah."
If Utah loses, it will mark the end of a 14-year NBA career for retiring shooting guard Jeff Hornacek.
It's a prospect that won't sit well with the Jazz, and forward Bryon Russell said he's confident the home fans will help Hornacek extend his career a few more weeks.
"They will get loud," said Russell, who also predicted a Jazz victory in Game 4. "That's the great thing about a homecourt advantage. I'm sure our crowd will be a factor."
Payton, who on Thursday was named to the NBA's all-defensive team for the seventh time, expects a great game.
"We know it's going to be tough," he said. "We know they're going to try to hit us. We just have to keep our composure and hopefully we'll get a win."