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Malone lively while MJ can't buy a hoop

2/15/2003

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Karl Malone insisted his performance had
nothing to do with playing against Michael Jordan.

Malone had 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Utah Jazz got one
final shot at their nemesis of the 1990s in a 109-77 victory over
the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
"Not too bad for an old man,'' said Malone, who punctuated his
night with three dunks -- which don't come often from the
39-year-old Mailman.
Andrei Kirilenko added 20 points and Matt Harpring scored 17 for
the Jazz, who came back after their worst loss of the season with
one of their most dominant games -- while welcoming coach Jerry
Sloan back from a seven-game suspension for shoving an official.
Sloan's return couldn't have gone much better for everybody in
the Delta Center except the Wizards.
The sellout crowd of 19,911 spent the night cheering on Utah's
blowout as well as Jordan, whose popularity outweighed his history
against Utah. Barring a stunning run to the NBA Finals by both
teams, Jordan scored 11 in his last game against the Jazz and was
cheered loudly each time he made a shot.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, he made only three before sitting
out the fourth quarter with Washington down 84-46 after Harpring
hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"They looked really good and they took the life out of us
early,'' Jordan said. "They did exactly what they were supposed to
do as a veteran team. They attacked. They put us back on our heels
and we never really could get off of them.''
Washington's Bryon Russell, who played nine seasons for the Jazz
before leaving as a free agent last summer, scored three points on
1-of-5 shooting in his return to Utah. Larry Hughes led the Wizards
with 14 points, scoring six in the fourth quarter against the Jazz
reserves.
The Wizards were just 26-for-72 (36 percent) while the Jazz made
nearly half their shots, going 39-for-79 just two nights after a
106-76 loss at home to Houston.
"I don't think we were terrific or extremely aggressive, but we
were better. I think it was just enough,'' said Stockton, who had
eight points, six assists and three blocks. "It got us going. It
got us a nice lead and we were able to sustain that effort, which I
thought was as big a key.''
Sloan was suspended for seven games for shoving referee Courtney
Kirkland on Jan. 28 at Sacramento. The Jazz went 4-3 under
assistant Phil Johnson, who was happy to step aside for Sloan's
return.
"I haven't been there for a long time,'' Sloan said. "It was
nice to be there. People don't realize what Phil and those guys
went through to coach this team. That is a tough situation to put
them in and I really appreciate what they were able to do.''
Utah outscored Washington by at least 10 points in each of the
first three quarters and led by as many as 42. The Jazz also
outrebounded Washington 47-33.
Scott Padgett scored 13 points and Greg Ostertag pulled down 10
rebounds for Utah, which got an early spark from Malone.
Malone had 11 points in the first quarter and drew a technical
for clapping his hands in Charles Oakley's face after a flagrant
foul. Malone, who went down in the lane hard then sprang to his
feet after the foul by Oakley, seemed inspired after the play.
Near the end of the quarter, Malone picked up a rebound in the
lane and leaped for a one-handed dunk that gave the Jazz a 26-13
lead at the end of the first quarter.
"This game was over in the first four minutes,'' Washington
coach Doug Collins said. "They have a great offense, but we didn't
show any resistance. It was discouraging to watch.''

Game notes
Sloan was greeted warmly by the crowd when he was
introduced before the game. He had a few minor arguments with the
officials, but didn't push it in his first game back. ...
Washington guard Jerry Stackhouse, the Wizards' leading scorer at
22.5 points per game, did not dress for a fifth straight game
because of a groin injury. ... Russell was booed throughout the
night.

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