Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/19

Game 1: Tuesday, November 19th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 8th
Game 3: Sunday, January 12th
Game 4: Wednesday, March 19th

Jazz 99


Suns 86

(35-32, 24-10 home)

    Coverage: KJZZ

    7:00 PM ET, March 19, 2003

    US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 28 16 27 2899
    PHX 21 22 21 2286

    Top Performers

    UTAH: K. Malone 34 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 4 Stl

    PHX: A. Stoudemire 17 Pts, 12 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Blk

    Malone admits focusing on game was tough

    PHOENIX (AP) -- Once the Utah Jazz began running their offense the way it was designed, Karl Malone took control.

    Karl Malone

    Malone scored 20 of his 34 points in the second half to lead the Jazz to a 99-86 victory Wednesday night over the Phoenix Suns.

    "We executed more in the second half,'' said Malone, who finished 11-of-24 from the floor and 12-of-13 on free throws. "Coming down the stretch we kept pressure on them the whole time without getting caught up in all the other stuff.''

    That everything else included President Bush's address to the nation, which came a few minutes into halftime.

    "It lets you know that this is just a game that you're playing,'' Malone said. "It was weird but we had a job to do. Coach is saying to get your head in the game but that's easier said than done. Those could be your brothers and sisters out there.''

    Mart Harpring added 24 for the Jazz, who won their second straight to pull even with the idle Los Angeles Lakers for sixth place in the Western Conference. Greg Ostertag added 13 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.

    "We've changed out defenses a lot, trying to throw different schemes at them and trying to change the game,'' Harpring said. "We created some turnovers, which was a big key.''

    As a team, the Jazz shot 60.6 percent in the second half (20-of-33) to finish at 47.8, just ahead of their season average of 46.7 percent.

    "I thought our offense was a little bit better when everyone was thinking about running it,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "In the second half we did a better job of executing around the basket. If we were athletic enough I wouldn't care how we play, but we're not very athletic.''

    Shawn Marion scored 22 points and Amare Stoudemire added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, who have lost four of their last six. They began the night tied with Houston for eighth place in the West.

    "In the second half it was a clinic by the Jazz,'' said Suns coach Frank Johnson. "The things that we talked about, with having no backdoor cuts, kept going and kept going. With the backdoor cuts, getting fouled and dropping the ball off to people, that was very disappointing.''

    Stephon Marbury, who entered the game averaging 23.3 points per game, finished with 11 on 5-of-22 shooting.

    "We're not good enough to try and stop anybody,'' Sloan said. "We knew we needed to try to keep them in a halfcourt game so they didn't get a chance to do what they can do.''

    Malone was 7-for-14 from the floor in the second half as Utah extended a one-point halftime lead to as many as nine. The Jazz added to their lead in spite of a third-quarter field-goal drought of almost four minutes, taking advantage of three straight Phoenix fouls and converting five of six free throw attempts to take a 66-57 with 2:31 left in the quarter.

    Phoenix used a full-court press on two possessions to cut Utah's lead. Bo Outlaw scored off an offensive rebound, and Marion and Joe Johnson made consecutive shots as the Suns pulled to 69-64 with 37.6 seconds to go.

    But the Jazz gradually pulled away. Andrei Kirilenko scored on a dunk with 1.5 seconds left, Malone hit consecutive shots at the start of the fourth and Kirilenko added a 20-foot jumper as Utah opened a 79-69 lead with 7:43 remaining. The Suns never got closer than seven after that.

    "We put them in situations where they were going to get a bucket or free throws,'' Marion said. "I guess we were a step behind.''

    Game notes

    The Jazz won three of four games against the Suns and hold the tiebreaker should the teams end up tied. ... Phoenix forward Tom Gugliotta did not dress because of back spasms. ... Utah made more free throws (29-of-33) than the Suns attempted (13-of-21). ... President Bush's address was broadcast over the arena's video boards and received a standing ovation.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 99 86
    FGM-FGA 33-69 (.478) 34-82 (.415)
    3PM-3PA 4-6 (.667) 5-16 (.313)
    FTM-FTA 29-33 (.879) 13-21 (.619)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-41 12-38
    Assists 29 22
    Turnovers 19 13
    Steals 9 10
    Blocks 8 6
    Fast Break Points 1 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (1/0) 25 (0/1)

    Top Performers

    Karl Malone Malone
    Points: 34
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Amar'e Stoudemire Stoudemire
    Points: 17
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 3