Work in Sports
SALT LAKE CITY (Ticker) -- Karl Malone's hot hand has spread to the rest of his Utah Jazz teammates.
Malone scored 23 points and the Jazz shot a blistering 61 percent through three quarters, cruising to a 101-87 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics and a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round series.
In Game One on Saturday, Malone carried the Jazz to victory as he scored 50 points on 18-of-32 shooting. He was even hotter tonight, making 10-of-13 shots, including 10 in a row before missing a long jumper at the end of the third period.
The Jazz did not have to ride the broad shoulders of Malone.
John Stockton scored 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, making his last seven shots and handing out 11 assists. Bryon Russell added 19 points after scoring just eight in the opener.
"It's a game after you win a big one," Malone said. "This second one the last couple of years or two or three years has gotten away from us," Malone said. "We came out from the start of the game focused to play and then at the end not (have to) worry about anything."
"It was a better win tonight because I think everyone was involved in the offense," Jazz center Olden Polynice said.
Aging stars Malone and Stockton took a well-deserved seat with the Jazz leading by 27 points late in the third quarter and did not return. Second-seeded Utah built the advantage to as much as 34 and cruised to its second straight convincing win over Seattle, which appears headed for a quick exit.
Overall, the Jazz shot 56 percent (40-of-72). Through three quarters, they had made 34-of-56 shots while holding the SuperSonics to 24-of-54 (44 percent).
"For the most part, these guys have an idea of what they have to do," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "It's pretty much up to them.
We've gone over all the stuff. I thought we were alive defensively and when you're alive defensively, that gives you a chance every night. We ran our offense pretty well."
Gary Payton scored 20 points for Seattle, which returns home Saturday for Game Three, where it hopes to avoid its first playoff sweep since 1989.
"So much for that Game Two mess, hunh?" Sonics reserve center Greg Foster said. "Let's just call it a good old-fashioned (butt)-kicking. It's as simple as that. We weren't tough enough. We haven't shown that we've been tough enough throughout the year."
"Obviously, we'd like to play as few games as possible," said Stockton, 38. "We'd like to win it in the next one."
Sonics coach Paul Westphal again changed his starting lineup, restoring forward Vin Baker. He scored just 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting and was no factor as he again was thoroughly outplayed by Malone.
"The Jazz were vintage tonight," Westphal said. "They were outstanding in every way. We weren't very good in any way. So that's what happens when those two things collide."
Westphal also sat Ruben Patterson for the entire first half. The small forward started nearly the entire season and was one of the NBA's most improved players.
"The whole world was shocked," Patterson said. "I don't know what's going on, why Paul didn't play me. Now it's going to be all over the paper in Washington that he (himself) isn't playing. I don't have nothing against Paul, I don't know if Paul has anything against me. But he's the coach and he made his decision not to play me in the first half. To this day, I don't know why."
The Jazz never trailed as Russell set an immediate tone with two 3-pointers in the first 68 seconds. The Sonics fought back for 12-12 tie before Malone -- who missed his first two shots -- had three baskets in a 10-2 surge that gave Utah a 22-14 lead with 3:07 left in the first quarter.
A 3-pointer by Payton kept the deficit at 38-30 midway through the second period before the Jazz heated up again. Stockton and Howard Eisley drilled 3-pointers and Russell had a jumper in an 8-2 burst that pushed the advantage to 46-32 with 4:23 to go.
Stockton added another 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half to give Utah a 57-40 lead. He and Russell had 13 points at the half and Malone added 10.
Any chance Seattle had of getting back in the game was ended by Utah scoring on its first four possessions of the third quarter to build the lead to 25 points. Malone, who made his last five shots of the first half, made his first five of the second half.
He scored 13 points in the period.
The best basket of the quarter came with 6:35 remaining. Jeff Hornacek dribbled along the right baseline, came in front of the rim and flipped in a no-look reverse layup, demoralizing the Sonics.
Eisley scored 15 points for the Jazz, who held a 38-37 edge in rebounds and had eight blocks to none for the Sonics. Reserve center Greg Ostertag had his second solid game with 12 rebounds and three blocks.
"It was a nice win because everybody played good for us," Malone said. "Now we're down to one game. We're thinking about one game and that's our attitude now."
Rashard Lewis scored 20 points and fellow second-year player Shammond Williams added 15 and 10 assists for the Sonics, who shot 46 percent (32-of-69) overall and committed 18 turnovers.