Work in Sports
Malone, Stockton turn back Seattle's storm
Posted: Saturday May 06, 2000 10:03 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- With Karl Malone and John Stockton back at their clinical, cool-headed best, the Utah Jazz put an end to Seattle's emotionally charged playoff run.
Malone scored 27 points and every Utah starter reached double figures as the Jazz beat Seattle 96-93 on Friday night to win the first-round playoff series 3-2.
The Jazz played solid on both ends as a team, bearing no resemblance to the fractured, bickering bunch that unraveled in the fourth quarter Wednesday night in Game 4 in Seattle.
Utah came out focused this time.
"Whether the referees are right or wrong, whether the plays you call are right or wrong, you have to maintain your concentration," Stockton said. "You can't let those things affect what you're trying to do on the court."
Stockton, who had 17 points and 15 assists, hit two free throws with nine seconds remaining to preserve the victory. Seattle had pulled within 94-93 when Gary Payton flipped in a runner in the lane with 25 seconds to play.
The Sonics got a final chance, but Chuck Person's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
"I'd bet on him anytime," Seattle coach Paul Westphal said. "He's a money shooter. He's made a lot of those in his career. He gave it a good ride and it just didn't go in."
The victory sends Utah to a rematch with Portland in the Western Conference semifinals. Last year, the Trail Blazers eliminated the Jazz in six games.
Bryon Russell scored 16 points for Utah and helped limit Payton to 27 after he scored 35 in Game 4. Jeff Hornacek scored 14 for the Jazz and extended his 14-year NBA career by at least a few more weeks.
Olden Polynice, aside from missing two late free throws, had a big game for the Jazz. He scored 13, including a three-point play with 5:41 remaining to give Utah an 86-83 lead and an emotional burst.
"That was the only way we were going to win, to get everyone involved," Polynice said. "When we get away from a team concept, as we did the other night in Seattle, we're not going to win."
Fueled by a noisy capacity crowd of 19,911 at the Delta Center, the Jazz wore down the Sonics with a swarming defense that held Seattle to 43 percent shooting.
"Olden really hurt us," Westphal said. "He made some big plays and our traps weren't as effective because they were able to finish even if we took them out of their first options."
But Utah made it interesting.
Polynice gave the Sonics a final chance with 30.8 seconds remaining when, with the Jazz trying to extend a 94-91 lead, he missed two free throws -- shooting an airball on the second.
Payton set the tone for Game 5 when he buried a meaningless 3-pointer at the end of Game 4. Fans booed him almost every time he touched the ball and bated him in the closing minutes with chants of "Ga-ry, Ga-ry."
Still, Payton almost had the last laugh.
Payton drove past Utah center Greg Ostertag, but Stockton delivered when he was fouled on the other end. The Jazz also got an important late basket from Hornacek, who tipped in Malone's miss with 1:44 to play for a 94-89 lead.
The Sonics trailed 79-70 going into the fourth quarter, but Patterson and Payton combined on a 9-1 run that forced to Utah to call a timeout with 8:12 remaining.
Twice more Seattle came within a point in the fourth, but Malone kept the Sonics at bay with his turnaround jumper. Seattle's last surge came when Payton and Rashard Lewis hit consecutive baskets to pull within 92-89 with 2:06 to play.
Lewis scored 20 and Vin Baker had 17 for the Sonics.
The Jazz extended a 53-49 halftime lead when Hornacek scored the first seven points of the third quarter. Payton scored two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the period, with Russell swatting two of his layup attempts.
"I don't know if you can take much credit when he goes on to score 30 or something like that," Stockton said. "We didn't hold him to anything. If he didn't score in one stretch, it's because he decided not to."
Notes: Utah coach Jerry Sloan passed Lenny Wilkens for fifth place on the NBA's career list with 73 playoff victories. Sloan moved into fifth on the list of playoffs games coached with 139, passing K.C. Jones. ... Malone exchanged words with some courtside Sonics fans after going after a loose ball late in the first half. One fan held Malone when he tried to get up. ... Payton needs two 3-pointers to tie Sam Perkins for the franchise playoff record of 102. ... Jazz forward Adam Keefe missed the series after straining his right hamstring during warmups for Game 1. He sat on the bench for Game 5, wearing a business suit.