Sunday, April 27, 2003

NBA: Jazz not ready to crown Kings

The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY - The Utah Jazz didn't play like a team trying to salvage some respect. They looked more like a team with plans to advance.

Greg Ostertag had 22 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks as the Jazz beat Sacramento 107-104 Saturday night, cutting the Kings' lead in the opening round playoff series to 2-1.

"It was a big game, but it's a series and you've got to win four," said Ostertag, who topped his career playoff high for scoring and rebounding for the second time in a week.

The teams hadn't played in five days since Monday's 108-95 victory by Sacramento, and the extended layoff seemed to do the Jazz some good.

Unlike the first two games when Utah started strong in the first quarter and collapsed in the second, the Jazz stayed intense for most of the game - finding a way to loose balls, crashing hard to the floor to draw a foul or getting putbacks to regain the momentum.

"It looked like we were involved. It looked like we wanted to be there. That was the exciting thing about it," said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who was ejected in the third quarter after getting called for his second technical foul.

Karl Malone had 20 points and 11 rebounds, John Stockton finished with 15 points and seven assists and Calbert Cheaney added 15 points for the Jazz, who haven't been swept in the playoffs since 1989.

Utah committed just seven turnovers while forcing 14.

"They got us on our heels. I thought they were the aggressors," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "I kept hearing how physical they were going to be, but they were very aggressive offensively.

Chris Webber, who missed practice all week because of a sore lower back, had 24 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 1:57 left.

Mike Bibby scored 23 and Peja Stojakovic finished with 19 points for the Kings, who couldn't overcome their 34 fouls. The Jazz, who were called for 21 fouls, took advantage of the calls, making 16 of their final 17 from the line to seal it.

The Kings were fuming over the foul discrepancy.

"The refs need to see both sides of the game. They can play physical, but we can't play physical," said Bobby Jackson, who also fouled out. "It's ridiculous. I'd rather have high school refs than NBA refs."

The Jazz, who lost to the Kings on a disputed foul call in December, weren't apologizing for anything.

"We have to allow ourselves to play like that. Within the rules, but play physical," Malone said. "That's what playoff basketball is all about. No excuses."

Game 4 is Monday at the Delta Center, where the Kings swept both games last year to knock the Jazz out in the first round.

"We've got to make it real simple. We are playing one game," Stockton said. "We just had to win this one game. We know it could get out of hand if we go down 0-3."

This was the second time this year that Sloan got tossed and the Jazz wound up with a win over the Kings. Sloan was also ejected in a January game at Sacramento for shoving an official, an offense that drew a seven-game suspension.

Bucks 119, Nets 114

MILWAUKEE - Toni Kukoc hit two big 3-pointers in overtime and Michael Redd added a third as Milwaukee evened its first-round series at two games apiece.

Milwaukee managed just one free throw over the final 6 minutes of regulation. But the Nets, despite scoring 14 unanswered points to tie the game 99-99, missed nine free throws in the final 3:49.

Kukoc came off the bench to lead Milwaukee with 23 points, while Gary Payton had 20 points and 14 assists, tying his career-high for a playoff game.

Kenyon Martin finished with 30 points to lead the Nets.

Hornets 99, 76ers 85

NEW ORLEANS - Baron Davis, wearing a thick blue sleeve over his strained and bruised left knee, scored 28 points on everything from 3-pointers to slicing drives to floaters.

The victory pulled the Hornets to 2-1 in the series, with Game 4 coming up Monday night.

Jamaal Magloire and P.J. Brown followed through on their promise to be more of a force inside. Magloire had 18 points and nine rebounds, while Brown had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Jerome Moiso, seeing his first action of the series, scored 10 points - all in the fourth quarter as the Hornets pulled away.

Allen Iverson led the Sixers with 28 points, but he had only eight in the second half when he wasn't much of a factor.

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