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Payton, Sonics off to 3-0 start after crushing Jazz

11/4/2002

SEATTLE (AP) -- Karl Malone couldn't remember a night he didn't
score a single point.

Until now, that is.

The Mailman, fighting a head cold and stomach virus, got into early foul trouble
and went scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting before watching the final 21 minutes of Seattle's 91-77 victory
over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night.

It was the first time Malone, who ranks second on the NBA's
career scoring list, has been shut out in 18 NBA seasons. For that
matter, an ailing Malone said it was the first time he's ever gone scoreless, period.

"My wife told me I probably shouldn't go play, but you don't listen sometimes," Malone said. "I don't know if I've ever played in a game where I didn't
score, high school or junior high, whatever," he said.

How about the fourth grade?

"Nope. Never," Malone said.

Gary Payton scored 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting, helping the
SuperSonics to a 3-0 start for the first time in three years. In
the closing minutes, Payton noticed the Mailman's goose egg on the
scoreboard and spread the word down the Sonics bench.

"When I heard that, it just went through my head that this must
be the first time that's ever happened," said Seattle's Rashard
Lewis, who was 6 years old when Malone broke into the league.

"Every time I've seen him play, he's had at least 10 points,"
Lewis said. "I've never even seen him when he's not in double
digits. I guess tonight just wasn't his night."

Desmond Mason had 16 points, Vladimir Radmanovic scored 15 and
Peja Drobnjak 10 for Seattle. Kenny Anderson, in his first action
this season after fighting back spasms, scored 10.

Andrei Kirilenko scored 17 points for the Jazz, while Matt
Harpring had 16 and Scott Padgett 10. John Stockton finished with
eight points on 1-of-4 shooting with five assists.

Malone's previous career low was two points on Dec. 18, 1985,
his rookie season, at New Jersey. He also had two points before
getting ejected from a game in April 2001 at Phoenix.

"I don't have any excuses," Malone said. "When I put my
uniform on, I go out there to play."

Malone was called for two quick fouls in the first quarter and
got his third with 3:53 left before halftime. After shooting
0-for-5 in the first half, the Mailman missed the two shots he took
in the third quarter.

He played 3 minutes after the break, then took a seat at the end
of the Jazz bench and only got up for timeouts. Malone said five
years ago, he would have tried to play more in the second half.

"If I wanted to watch, I should have stayed at home," Malone
said. "Maybe I should have taken the day off."

Malone turned 39 last summer and Stockton turned 40 last spring,
but the Mailman refused to use his age as an excuse.

"A 20-year-old can get a stomach virus," he said. "No one
said anything last night when we won."

The aging Jazz got no early-season breaks from the NBA
schedule-makers, and they looked tired from the opening tip. Utah
was playing its fourth game in five nights, making a stop in each
time zone.

"We were well aware they played four games in five nights, East
Coast to Utah and up here," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "We
wanted to use our pressure, stay aggressive and be on top of
them."

The Sonics took advantage of Utah's 21 percent first-quarter
shooting to build a 20-9 lead after the first 12 minutes.
Radmanovic scored twice during an 8-2 run to open the second
period, and Seattle never looked back.

It was garbage time by the middle of the third quarter, though
Mason rewarded fans who stayed for the fourth period with a
highlight-reel dunk that gave Seattle a 79-53 lead with 8:35
remaining.

"The two quick fouls (on Malone), the defensive pressure on
Stockton, we made them get out of their pick-and-roll," McMillan
said. "We made them work at both ends of the floor."

The Sonics are 3-0 for the first time since 1999-2000, when they
also beat Utah in their third game as part of an 11-3 start. Later
that year, they lost to the Jazz in a first-round playoff series.

Game notes
Payton had five rebounds, giving him 4,003 in his 13-year
career. He ranks third on the team's career list, trailing Jack
Sikma (7,729) and Shawn Kemp (5,978). ... Despite the loss, the
Jazz have won eight of 10 against Seattle. Utah won last year's
season series 3-1. ... Utah coach Jerry Sloan, in his 15th season,
coached his 1,100th game with the Jazz -- the most with one team
among active coaches.