7:30 PM ET, March 10, 2003
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- Feasting on sub.-500 teams could be the Utah Jazz's formula for a 20th consecutive postseason appearance.
The lottery-bound Miami Heat didnt deviate from the trend Monday night.
The Jazz took advantage of a Heat squad missing injured leading scorer Eddie Jones to defeat Miami 83-73. Karl Malone scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Jazz, which is 20-7 against teams with losing records, but only 16-20 against winning teams.
The Jazz came off consecutive losses to Western Conference powers Dallas and Sacramento.
"Losing leaves a bad taste in your mouth, so this does not take the loss to Sacramento and Dallas away," Malone said. "Everybody wants to talk about you played hard, but a loss is a loss.
"We got embarrassed in Dallas, so to bounce back and get the win, that's what is important at this point."
The Jazz avoided a third consecutive loss by taking an early lead against the Heat and never relinquishing it.
The Heat could not get closer than seven on Malik Allens hook shot with 1:43 remaining, making it 80-73. Harpring made two free throws with a minute left and Malone converted one of two free throws with 36 seconds remaining, securing the win.
"A win is a win, no matter how you look at it," Harpring said. "A win over the Miami Heat is the same thing as a win over Dallas in the standings. We've got to win.
"There's guys right behind us in the standings and, of course, theres guys right ahead of us, too. So we've got to win."
Miami (20-43) has lost four straight since Jones injured his ankle in practice.
Coach Pat Riley, who has had previous run-ins with officials this season, was ejected by referee Mark Wunderlich, receiving his second technical foul of the game with 6:34 remaining in the third quarter. Riley was disputing a foul call on Brian Grant, who also was assessed a technical for arguing the call.
"We were passionate about trying to win the game," Riley said. "Things were going the other way. Its frustrating to me and its frustrating to my players."
Earlier this season, Riley was fined for comments critical of referees following Miami's home losses against New York and Portland.
Like Riley, Jazz coach Sloan has had problems with officials.
"Thats not a big deal,'' Sloan said, laughing. "Weve all had problems with officials. You think I'm worried about that?"
Utah certainly didnt need to worry much after building an early lead against the Heat. The Jazz spotted Miami the first two points of the game and didnt trail again. Malone scored 15 of his points in the first half, and his three-point play with 2:01 remaining in the second quarter gave Utah its biggest lead of the first half, 37-25.
Despite Caron Butlers 18 third-quarter points, Miami could not reduce the gap closer than 48-41 four minutes into the second half. Butler finished with 24 points.
Miami could not build any late extended run as Utah kept the Heat scoreless for the first 3:52 of the fourth quarter.
"We're fighting for our playoff lives right now," Malone said. "Nobody's going to be talking about the playoffs if we don't take care of business. We might not go to the playoffs, so of course a win is a win. And at this point they're big wins for us."
Karl Malone moved into seventh place on the career rebounding list, surpassing Nate Thurmond. Malone needed seven rebounds to overtake Thurmond and finished with 13. Malone has 14,470 rebounds in his career. This season, Malone moved up two spots on the list, previously passing Walt Bellamy. Utah is 32-3 when leading after three quarters. ... The Heat is 0-19 when scoring 79 points or less ..Miami placed C-F Sean Marks on the injured list with a sprained left elbow. Marks suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Miami's 92-83 loss to Denver on Saturday night. The Heat also activated center Ken Johnson from the injured list. Johnson had been sidelined for 36 games because of a lower back strain.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||28-63 (.444)||27-82 (.329)|
|3PM-3PA||0-2 (.000)||4-24 (.167)|
|FTM-FTA||27-36 (.750)||15-23 (.652)|
|Fast Break Points||3||5|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||23 (2/0)||28 (4/0)|