Jazz Escapes; Lakers Cruise

Posted: May 06, 2000

With Karl Malone and John Stockton back at their clinical, cool-headed best, the Utah Jazz put an end to Seattle's emotionally charged playoff run.

Malone scored 27 points and every Utah starter reached double figures as the Jazz beat the visiting SuperSonics, 96-93, last night to win the first-round Western Conference series, 3-2.

The Jazz played solid on both ends as a team, bearing no resemblance to the fractured, bickering bunch that unraveled in the fourth quarter Wednesday night in Game 4 in Seattle.

Utah came out focused this time.

"Whether the referees are right or wrong, whether the plays you call are right or wrong, you have to maintain your concentration," Stockton said. "You can't let those things affect what you're trying to do on the court."

Stockton, who had 17 points and 15 assists, hit two free throws with nine seconds remaining to preserve the victory. Seattle had pulled within 94-93 when Gary Payton flipped in a runner in the lane with 25 seconds to play.

The Sonics got a final chance, but Chuck Person's three-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer.

"I'd bet on him any time," Seattle coach Paul Westphal said. "He's a money shooter. He's made a lot of those in his career. He gave it a good ride and it just didn't go in."

The victory sends Utah to a rematch with Portland in the Western Conference semifinals. Last year, the Trail Blazers eliminated the Jazz in six games.

Bryon Russell scored 16 points for Utah and helped limit Payton to 27 after he scored 35 in Game 4. Jeff Hornacek scored 14 for the Jazz and extended his 14-year NBA career by at least a few more weeks.

Rashard Lewis scored 20 and Vin Baker had 17 for the Sonics.

In the other game:


At Los Angeles, the Lakers got a dominant game from Shaquille O'Neal and turned the deciding game of their first-round Western series with Sacramento into a laugher.

O'Neal outrebounded the entire Kings team in the first half, 14-12, and finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds.

So lopsided was the game, coming on the heels of two losses at Sacramento, O'Neal and Kobe Bryant sat out almost the entire fourth quarter, giving the team's two best players some unexpected extra rest to carry into their second-round series against the Phoenix Suns beginning tomorrow.

Bryant finished with 17 points and Glen Rice had 14.

Chris Webber finished with 20, but the rest of Sacramento's starters shot a combined 7-for-22. Vlade Divac scored just four, Nick Anderson had three and Corliss Williamson eight.

In other news:

HEAT: Guard busted

Miami Heat rookie guard Rodney Buford has been arrested on a marijuana charge, his third marijuana-related offense in the past year, which left his status in doubt going into their playoff series against New York.

News of Buford's arrest last weekend on a misdemeanor charge surfaced yesterday. Buford, 22, was pulled over in his vehicle in Miami Beach at 2:08 a.m. Sunday for illegally tinted windows, a police report said. Officers detected a marijuana odor, and a search revealed a bag and pill bottle containing marijuana.

Buford declined to comment. Coach Pat Riley knew about the incident Sunday, but kept it quiet.

MUSSELMAN: Dies at 59

Bill Musselman, who was coach at the University of Minnesota in the 1970s and later became the first coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, died at 59 of heart and kidney failure. He had been a Portland assistant since 1997.

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