The eighth-seeded Jazz built a big lead and Stockton made sure they held it as they stunned the top-seeded Sacramento Kings, 93-86, to even their Western Conference first-round series at one game each.
After the Kings held off the Jazz, 89-86, on Saturday, Divac said, "I think it was their best shot, and they didn't win ...
so they're done." Stockton had other ideas.
"The games can go any way," Stockton said. "As we know in this league, you can win by 30 or lose by 30 the next night. That is just the way the league is. In the playoffs, you have a long time to look at each other."
The 40-year-old point guard was part of a physical defense that held the Kings to 29 points in the first half, when some of the Jazz's younger players sparked the offense.
"We wanted to come back and play, regardless of that," Jazz forward Donyell Marshall said. "But I think he really pumped us up, helped us stay focused."
"We had the willingness to win, despite what Vlade said," Utah swingman Bryon Russell added.
Sacramento trailed by 18 points in the third quarter but rallied in the final period, closing within four points with six minutes to go. That's when Stockton took control with a virtually flawless floor game that frustrated the Kings.
Stockton finished with 13 points, 12 assists, two steals and one turnover as he helped the Jazz end an 11-game playoff road losing streak dating to Game Four of their 1999 first-round series against the Kings.
"I didn't know that we were 0-for-11 in (road) playoff games, but it was a nice win for us," Jazz forward Karl Malone said.
Marshall scored 19 points and Malone added 18 and 12 rebounds for the Jazz, who had five players score in double figures and ended a seven-game skid against the Kings dating to last season.
Utah got big contributions from a handful of players. Rookie Andrei Kirilenko had 15 points and five blocks while harassing Peja Stojakovic into 6-of-18 shooting. Russell added 12 points and Greg Ostertag seven and 10 rebounds.
The best-of-five series shifts to Utah for Games Three and Four on Saturday and Monday. Sacramento won both of its regular-season visits to the Delta Center.
"We have two tough games coming up against a terrific team," said Stockton, who was playing his 175th career playoff game.
Divac scored 21 points and Chris Webber added 18 for the Kings, who lost just five home games during the regular season. Divac refused to back off his statement.
"I feel very confident that we are going to make it to the second round," Divac said. "This happened last year, and we got the series back. I just hope that we can just start to play our game."
That didn't happen until the fourth quarter, which began with the Jazz holding a 64-52 lead. The Kings still trailed 70-59 after a jumper by Malone with 7:48 to go before making a charge.
"I don't think as long as I'll be here in Sacramento -- and this is where I'll retire -- I'll never think we'll score 52 at the end of the third," Webber said. "I've never seen our team not shoot, not have many points, and we've played against some great defenses."
A 3-pointer by Stojakovic and two baskets by Divac cut the deficit to 71-67 with 6:40 left. On four straight possessions, Stockton made a leaner; fed Russell for a 3-pointer; found Ostertag underneath, leading to a free throw by the big man; and fed Ostertag for a dunk.
A tip-in by Ostertag made it 81-73 with 3:46 left. Webber's two free throws got the Kings within 83-77 with 2:27 to play, but Stockton found Marshall for another 3-pointer and a nine-point bulge with 2:11 remaining.
"I thought we were focused on what we were trying to do," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We executed our offense well, and we got some good shots and fortunately made some of them."
Stojakovic scored 16 points for the Kings. In addition to shooting just 34.5 percent (30-of-87) from the field, Sacramento's bench was outplayed for the second straight game. Utah's reserves held a 33-14 scoring edge.
The game started slowly. With 3:53 left in the first quarter, Malone made a jumper to give Utah a 5-4 lead.
The Jazz led 15-14 after one quarter and got untracked in the second period while the Kings still were stalled. Marshall scored 14 points -- one less than Sacramento -- and Utah built a 44-29 halftime lead.
"We had said going into the ballgame that we were going to disrupt them," Malone said. "They like to get out in the open floor and we tried to keep from turning the ball over, because that is how they get the crowd into it. We tried to make them take tough shots."
The Kings, who shot just 27 percent (11-of-41) in the first half, fell behind 53-35 on a jumper by Malone with 8:14 left in the third quarter.