EAST RUTHEFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Andrei Kirilenko watched John
Stockton's last-second shot sail toward the basket and immediately
recognized it would be an airball.
"It was airball for sure,'' Kirilenko said. "It was bad.''
His tip, however, was good, allowing Utah to snap a three-game
losing streak and win for the eighth straight time on New Jersey's
"Go figure that, huh?'' Karl Malone commented.
With Utah trailing 90-89 following Kenyon Martin's shot from the
lane with 14.1 seconds left, Stockton dribbled upcourt and headed
to the right baseline.
The Nets were in a zone defense, and Martin found himself
matched against Utah's 40-year-old point guard.
"Whatever we were running we didn't do it very well,'' Stockton
said. "So there it was with the time running down and not much to
do, so I just tried to get it up there somewhere.
"It basically was a cast-off, and Andrei made a play out of it.
It was a no-chance shot.''
Kirilenko directed it in, the ball bouncing four times on the
rim before settling through the net as the buzzer went off.
"Yeah, John threw it up just a little bit shorter than I would
have liked,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "It was a success,
Malone scored 20, DeShawn Stevenson added a career-high 18 and
Kirilenko had 15 points. Kirilenko and Stockton each had four
steals for the Jazz, who shot 58 percent (22-for-38) in the second
Martin scored 24 and Kerry Kittles had 21 for the Nets, who have
lost four of their last five.
The victory allowed Utah the salvage something positive out of a
four-game road trip that began with losses at Memphis, Minnesota
and Philadelphia. The Jazz overcame the absence of Matt Harpring,
who sat out with a sprained right ankle.
"It'll make that five-hour plane ride a little bit better. It
was a nice win for us,'' Malone said.
New Jersey had a horrid stretch midway through the second
quarter, committing turnovers on six consecutive possessions
without attempting a single shot. But the Nets made up for it by
closing the half with a 16-2 run for a 48-39 lead.
Utah pulled within one midway through the third quarter before
Martin had a follow dunk, Rodney Rogers made a fast-break layup and
Kittles dunked off the break to give the Nets a 69-62 lead.
Stevenson surpassed his previous career high of 16 on a corner
jumper with 5:33 left that cut the Nets' lead to 83-82, and
Kirilenko made a pair from the line with 3:58 left to give Utah its
first lead since the second quarter.
Jason Kidd hit two free throws after stealing a pass by Stockton with
1:07 left to cut Utah's lead to 89-88, and the Nets forced a
24-second violation and got the ball back. Richard Jefferson
grabbed an offensive rebound on a miss by Martin, and Kidd threaded
the ball inside to Martin for a short jump hook that gave the Nets
a 90-89 lead.
"I thought we had the game after I made that shot,'' Martin
said. "It doesn't matter that it was a close game. All that
matters is that we lost. We have to find a way to get better.''
Kidd nearly had a quadruple-double with 12 points, 15
assists, nine rebounds and nine turnovers. Jefferson had seven
turnovers. For Utah, Stockton had five turnovers and four assists,
and Greg Ostertag had a season-high seven blocked shots to go with
four turnovers. ... New Jersey entered the game with a home record
of 26-4 -- best in NBA. ... Utah has won 25 of the last 28 between