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Fine tuning

Jazz look to adjust for Game 2

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Posted: Sunday May 07, 2000 10:29 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Utah Jazz are optimistic about regrouping for Game 2 of their playoff series against Portland.

"This is a seven-game series, not a one-game series," Jazz forward Karl Malone said after Sunday's 94-75 loss.

"We need to make some adjustments and come back and win. We need more intensity. We showed some signs. The second team played well. And we were only down four entering the fourth."

That was the extent of Malone's comments. After a question about Scottie Pippen he didn't like, Malone cursed and cut his interview short in the locker room.

Malone also didn't talk about his left knee, injured when teammate Armen Gilliam was going for a loose ball and ran into Malone's chair.

"I'm not sure what happened," Gilliam said. "I got pushed out of bounds and ran into the bench. But (Malone) doesn't want to talk about it. I want to respect that, so I won't talk about it, either."

A series loss will renew talk that Utah's terrific run of success is almost over. The starting five is the oldest in NBA history with an average age of 35 years, five months -- Malone turns 37 in July, point guard John Stockton is 38, and Jeff Hornacek, who is retiring after the playoffs, is 37.

Utah can no longer keep up with the athletic Blazers, and it hasn't been able to win in Portland, even in its heyday. Utah is just 1-13 in the playoffs here, and this season it lost four of five to the Blazers. In those games, the Jazz shot 39 percent, well off their 46-percent season average.

"We just need more of everything, and we need to start with more intensity," Utah point guard John Stockton said. "I don't know what happened. I'll try to figure it out (Monday)."

Utah stayed close early, but its poor shooting allowed the Blazers to take a 23-15 lead. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan benched the starters for the entire second quarter, and reserves Gilliam, Howard Eisley and Jacque Vaughn came out with energy and cut the lead to 32-30.

"Our first group looked like we just wanted to hang out and try to get the game over," Sloan said. "We put the other guys in there with the hopes of competing."

Portland's reserves provided the lift in the fourth quarter, which began with Utah down 65-61. Greg Anthony scored 12 points in the period, hitting two 3-pointers, and Brian Grant had four points and six rebounds.

Grant, who had some memorable, bruising battles with Malone in the playoffs last year but has been reduced to a reserve role by injuries this season, ripped away a rebound from three Jazz players with 8:45 to go. That set up a short jumper by Pippen that pushed the lead to 71-63.

After hitting a layup later in the quarter, Grant ran down a missed jumper by Pippen, diving onto media row to save the ball. Pippen then hit a 3-pointer that made it 80-67 with 5:39 left.

"What was big was the energy he brought to us all game," Pippen said of Grant. "That's something he's given to us all season -- some cockiness and energy off the bench."


 
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