Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 11/12

Game 1: Wednesday, November 12th
Game 2: Wednesday, March 31st

Hornets 76

(37-38, 13-23 away)

Jazz 89

(39-36, 26-11 home)

    Coverage: COX

    7:00 PM ET, March 31, 2004

    EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

    1 2 3 4 T
    NO 11 24 17 2476
    UTAH 20 22 19 2889

    Top Performers

    NO: D. Armstrong 19 Pts, 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

    UTAH: M. Moore 15 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Blk

    Jazz need Moore in fourth

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Mikki Moore found out Wednesday that he will be eligible if Utah makes the playoffs, then celebrated by getting the Jazz a little closer.

    Moore scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter to lead Utah past the New Orleans Hornets 89-76, taking a slight lead in the fight for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

    "We have to put a string of games together. We can't wait until the last two or three games and try to make a run. We have to push it right now," said Moore, who didn't know about his playoff eligibility until just before the game.

    Moore, who has bounced around the league as a role player with five different NBA teams, has been with the Jazz on and off since the end of January and was not on the roster at the March 1 deadline. But because he was an unrestricted free agent when he signed again March 4, the Jazz said Moore will be eligible should Utah make the playoffs.

    That's still a possibility.

    The Jazz improved to 39-36 and moved percentage points ahead of Portland (38-36), which won earlier Wednesday at Boston. Denver (39-37), which was idle, is also competing for the No. 8 playoff berth with two weeks remaining in the regular season.

    "It's a great time to have something to play for," said Raja Bell, who scored 10 for the Jazz. "Not only us, but the fans and everybody is focused in on the race. It's a cool time to be in that spotlight."

    Gordan Giricek scored 19 points and Carlos Arroyo had 12 points and five assists for Utah, which won for the fifth time in seven games.

    The Hornets lost their fourth straight and have been without leading scorer Baron Davis (ankle) for all four. With the loss, New Orleans fell into a three-way tie with Miami and Milwaukee for the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference at 37-38.

    It's the first time the Hornets have had a losing record since moving to New Orleans from Charlotte before last season.

    "It seems that when you're struggling, things don't always go your way," coach Tim Floyd said. "You have to credit Utah's defense. They're a gutty group, more so than anyone in this league."

    Darrell Armstrong led the Hornets with 19 points off the bench. Jamaal Magloire scored 12, Shammond Williams added 11 and P.J. Brown finished with 10 points for New Orleans, which never recovered after a dismal first quarter one night after losing at the Lakers 107-88.

    The Hornets never got closer than five after going just 5-for-21 in the first quarter and falling behind 20-11.

    Utah coach Jerry Sloan was disappointed the Hornets were able to make it as close as they did in the second half.

    "I thought Mikki Moore came off the bench and did a nice job for us and that was important. The rest were just kind of hanging out," Sloan said.

    Moore's previous high for points with the Jazz was the 11 he scored on Saturday in a 85-83 win over Denver. He hadn't taken a shot until the fourth quarter and finished 5-for-6 with six rebounds.

    Andrei Kirilenko had eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks and Tom Gugliotta pulled down eight boards for the Jazz, who never trailed after falling behind 5-2 in the first quarter.

    Kirilenko scored on a layup with 5:50 left in the third quarter, taking a pass from Gugliotta after a steal and breaking to the basket, where he switched hands and put the ball off the glass while getting fouled by Brown. He missed the free throw, but Utah still led 53-39.

    The Hornets chipped away and got to 61-56 after Steve Smith opened the fourth quarter with a jumper and Magloire followed with a dunk. But Moore, who signed as a free agent with the Jazz at the end of January, scored six during an 8-2 Utah run, putting the Jazz up 69-58 on a two-handed dunk off a pass from Lopez with about 8:30 remaining.

    After a basket by West to make it 69-60, Moore scored the next six points and drew an offensive foul as the Jazz pulled away 75-60. Utah coasted the rest of the way.<

    Notes:@ Utah had lost four straight to the Hornets. ... Giricek scored 11 in the first quarter. ... The Hornets are 0-2 on a five-game road trip. ... Wednesday was Utah's final game against an Eastern Conference team. The Jazz went 17-13 against the East.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 76 89
    FGM-FGA 25-75 (.333) 33-63 (.524)
    3PM-3PA 5-24 (.208) 4-7 (.571)
    FTM-FTA 21-23 (.913) 19-31 (.613)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-37 5-37
    Assists 19 26
    Turnovers 16 18
    Steals 5 8
    Blocks 4 9
    Fast Break Points 5 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 31 (1/0) 25 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    New Orleans
    Darrell Armstrong Armstrong
    Points: 19
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Mikki Moore Moore
    Points: 15
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 3