SI.com 2003 NBA Finals 2003 NBA Finals


Kings get 'Tagged

Ostertag explodes for 22 points, five blocks to win Game 3

Posted: Sunday April 27, 2003 1:09 AM
Updated: Sunday April 27, 2003 1:59 AM
  Mike Bibby, John Stockton Mike Bibby's 23 points and seven assists couldn't overcome Ostertag's surprising exploits. AP

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Jazz didn't play like a team trying to salvage some respect. They looked more like a team with plans to advance.

Greg Ostertag had 22 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks as the Jazz beat Sacramento 107-104 Saturday night, cutting the Kings' lead in the opening round playoff series to 2-1.

"It was a big game, but it's a series and you've got to win four," said Ostertag, who topped his career playoff high for scoring and rebounding for the second time in a week.

The teams hadn't played in five days since Monday's 108-95 victory by Sacramento, and the extended layoff seemed to do the Jazz some good.

SI.com's Marty Burns
Tempers are flaring. Gums are flapping. T's are flying.

Yes, the NBA playoffs have officially begun.

The feeling-out process is over. Emotions are rising -- along with the stakes -- and players are starting to get under each otherís skin like Botox needles.

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Unlike the first two games when Utah started strong in the first quarter and collapsed in the second, the Jazz stayed intense for most of the game -- finding a way to loose balls, crashing hard to the floor to draw a foul or getting putbacks to regain the momentum.

"It looked like we were involved. It looked like we wanted to be there. That was the exciting thing about it," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who was ejected in the third quarter after getting called for his second technical foul.

Karl Malone had 20 points and 11 rebounds, John Stockton finished with 15 points and seven assists and Calbert Cheaney added 15 points for the Jazz, who haven't been swept in the playoffs since 1989.

Utah committed just seven turnovers while forcing 14.

"They got us on our heels. I thought they were the aggressors," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "I kept hearing how physical they were going to be, but they were very aggressive offensively.

Chris Webber, who missed practice all week because of a sore lower back, had 24 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 1:57 left.

Mike Bibby scored 23 and Peja Stojakovic finished with 19 points for the Kings, who couldn't overcome their 34 fouls. The Jazz, who were called for 21 fouls, took advantage of the calls, making 16 of their final 17 from the line to seal it.

The Kings were fuming over the foul discrepancy.

"The refs need to see both sides of the game. They can play physical, but we can't play physical," said Bobby Jackson, who also fouled out. "It's ridiculous. I'd rather have high school refs than NBA refs."

The Jazz, who lost to the Kings on a disputed foul call in December, weren't apologizing for anything.

"We have to allow ourselves to play like that. Within the rules, but play physical," Malone said. "That's what playoff basketball is all about. No excuses."

Game 4 is Monday at the Delta Center, where the Kings swept both games last year to knock the Jazz out in the first round.

"We've got to make it real simple. We are playing one game," Stockton said. "We just had to win this one game. We know it could get out of hand if we go down 0-3."

This was the second time this year that Sloan got tossed and the Jazz wound up with a win over the Kings. Sloan was also ejected in a January game at Sacramento for shoving an official, an offense that drew a seven-game suspension.

Ostertag, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the series opener, came back after twisting his ankle in the fourth quarter and made his final six attempts from the line, where he's a 58 percent shooter.

"All my points came off passes from guys. It was right place, right time. Getting to open spots and making layups," Ostertag said.

The Kings appeared to be taking command midway through the fourth when Webber hit a jumper to tie it at 86-all, then Keon Clark followed with a dunk to give Sacramento the lead -- the last one for the Kings.

Ostertag made four straight from the line, and after Webber tied it at 90-all, Matt Harpring started an 8-3 Jazz run. Jim Jackson got the Kings to 105-102 in the final minute, but Sacramento had to foul and Stockton made his last four from the line.

Harpring finished with 11 points as all five Utah starters scored in double figures.

Notes: Jazz owner Larry Miller was celebrating his 59th birthday Saturday. ... Cheryl Ford, Malone's daughter who was picked third Friday in the WNBA draft, was in the stands. ... The Jazz haven't been swept since losing to Golden State in the opening round of the 1989 playoffs.


 
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