Work in Sports
Finely tuned Jazz outplay Blazers to take Game 4
Posted: Monday May 15, 2000 12:10 AM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Olden Polynice had heard enough.
He grew tired of hearing how the Utah Jazz had no chance against the Portland Trail Blazers. And he became angry over talk that his team was too old to remain competitive in the NBA playoffs.
Well, the Jazz are getting older but they're not dead.
Karl Malone scored 27 points, John Stockton had 18 and Polynice added 12 points and 11 rebounds as the Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 88-85 Sunday, trimming Utah's deficit in the Western Conference semifinals to 3-1.
"I heard comments being made by people," Polynice said. "They said this series was over and we were too old. People were talking about how it's so sad, watching them go out like this. Hey, we're not done yet."
The Blazers missed a chance to tie at the buzzer when Greg Anthony's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim, sending the best-of-seven series back to Oregon for Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Utah has struggled in Portland, winning once in 15 playoff games. No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit, but the Jazz are only concerned about Tuesday.
"It's one game. That's all we got," Malone said. "If we win, we keep playing. If we lose, we go home."
The Blazers called a timeout to set up a play with 6.7 seconds remaining. They worked the ball to Steve Smith, who couldn't get open on the perimeter and fed the ball to Anthony. His shot was airborne when the horn sounded.
"That's basketball," Anthony said. "It's hit or miss and you have to live with that. It's disappointing, but you tip your hat to them. They played extremely well, they showed a lot of courage and pride."
Utah avoided being swept for the first time in franchise history, and the possibility of going home until training camp gave the Jazz an intensity they lacked earlier in the series.
The 36-year-old Malone and 38-year-old Stockton were focused from the opening tip. And the fiery Polynice, 35, provided an emotional lift, flapping his arms as he ran upcourt after a basket or yelling as he collected a rebound.
Polynice was so effective that backup center Greg Ostertag didn't play.
"It was nice to see Olden compete," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "He ended up playing 39 minutes, which is probably the most we've had in a long time from someone in that position. He did a heck of a job."
Retiring guard Jeff Hornacek, facing the final game of his 14-year NBA career if the Jazz had lost, scored nine points.
Reserve Brian Grant led Portland with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Smith scored 19 points and Rasheed Wallace had 15.
The Blazers weren't the well-oiled machine that dominated the Jazz in the first three games. This time, they committed 16 turnovers, shot 37.5 percent and led only in the opening minutes.
"We had a lot of turnovers," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Second-chance points were the only thing that kept us in the game. Utah didn't do anything we didn't expect. They just outplayed us."
Frustration carried over to postgame interviews, where Bonzi Wells threatened a Salt Lake City writer. It was also a tough day for Dunleavy, who saw no silver lining in rallying from a 75-64 third-quarter deficit.
"I'm not looking for moral victories," Dunleavy said. "We had a mission today. Our mission was to win the game and we failed."
Trailing 75-69 entering the fourth quarter, the Blazers were patient. Wallace completed a three-point play and Grant scored twice inside, pulling Portland within 81-80 and forcing a Utah timeout with 4:35 to play.
But Malone hit a 20-footer and two free throws, and Russell drove the baseline for a dunk to give the Jazz an 87-80 lead with 2:11 to play.
After a basket by Wallace, Grant made two free throws with 38 seconds left, trimming the margin to 87-84. The Blazers caught a break when Polynice was called for a foul after a miss by Russell.
Smith made one of two free throws at the other end, pulling Portland within 87-85 with 14 seconds remaining. The Blazers stopped the clock by fouling Armen Gilliam, who made one of two free throws with 6.7 seconds left.
Notes: Wallace, who set an NBA record with 38 technical fouls in the regular season, got his second of the playoffs for arguing with referee Joe DeRosa in the third quarter. ... Since Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Utah's playoff record is 10-15, including 8-5 at the Delta Center. ... Polynice and Scottie Pippen were separated during a first-quarter flap that resulted in double technicals. ... Hornacek, who hit an NBA-leading 95 percent of his foul shots in the regular season, was 1-of-3 from the line. ... Rod Hundley, the only radio broadcaster the New Orleans and Utah Jazz have had, missed Sunday's game to receive his diploma at West Virginia. The No. 1 pick in the 1957 NBA draft, he left school 30 hours short of graduating.