Friday, May 28, 1999

Grant ties up Malone; Blazers send Jazz home

Enquirer news services

Brian Grant, center, fights Karl Malone and John Stockton for the ball.
(AP photo)

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        PORTLAND, Ore. — Former Xavier star Brian Grant got the best kind of revenge on Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz.

        Grant and his Portland Trail Blazers held Malone to a career playoff-low 8 points on 3-for-16 shooting and defeated the Jazz 92-80 Thursday night to win their best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal series 4-2.

        Grant had a game-high 12 rebounds and seven points as he concentrated on stopping Malone. The Blazers also used center Arvydas Sabonis to throw quick double teams at Malone.

        Malone elbowed Grant in Game 5, opening up a gash over his right eye. But there was no bad blood after Game 6.

        “We proved that we can do it, man, this year isn't a fluke for the Blazers,” said Grant, who embraced Malone after the game and tried to make peace.

        “We both respect each other,” Grant said. “A lot of things we said to each other we didn't mean. He wished me luck and I wished him luck.”

        “Grant sacrificed his offense to play great defense,” Malone said. “Give him credit. I just didn't get it done. It's something I'll be man enough to say. My teammates did a good job and I didn't. This ranks up there as one of the toughest losses in my career.”

        This was the first time in 148 career playoff games that Malone did not reach double figures.

        “That was certainly a great feat,” Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. “Brian was phenomenal. He was just determined to hold his position. He wanted it so badly.”

        The Blazers advance to play San Antonio in the Western Conference finals beginning Saturday.

        “Tonight is a prime example of what this team has become,” Jackson said. “We did a lot of maturing in this series. We learned a lot playing the Utah Jazz. We took a page out of their book, especially with the defensive intensity.”

        “This is a very good basketball team,” Utah coach Jerry Sloan said of Portland. “They're young, lively and they deserve to be where they are. Our guys battled them, we just didn't have enough to win against them.”

        The Jazz may have let their last title shot with future Hall of Famers Malone and John Stockton slip away.

        “Some of our guys aren't 19 years old anymore,” Sloan said. “Are we done? We've been answering these questions for the last six years. I think they will be around a little longer.”

        “We've been a little spoiled by the success of being to the Finals two years in a row,” Jeff Hornacek said. “But you can't just give up. I don't expect any retirements.”

        “We've got to get over this loss, first,” Stockton said. “We'll be all right. We'll go from there.

        The Jazz were noticeably a step slower in the postseason this time. They were outhustled and nearly beaten in the first round by Sacramento, and their normally machine-like offense sputtered against the young, deep Blazers.

        “They said (the pressure) was on us, but it wasn't on us, it was on them,” Portland's Isaiah Rider said.

        Rider scored 24 points, Jim Jackson had 17 and the pair combined to make 12 free throws in the final 1:05.

        The Jazz trailed by nine points with 6:40 left, but cut the lead to two on a layup by Bryon Russell and a free throw by Jeff Hornacek that made it 80-78 with 1:21 left.

        Jackson made two free throws to push the lead to 82-78 with 1:05 left. Utah's Bryon Russell missed on a 3-point attempt, and Brian Grant grabbed the rebound. Jackson made two more from the line to make it 84-78 with 45.7 seconds left.

        A 3-pointer by Stockton was short, and Rider made eight free throws in the final 33 seconds to seal it.

        Arvydas Sabonis and Rasheed Wallace each had 14 points for Portland. Hornacek scored 21 points to lead Utah. Russell had 17. Stockton had 14 points and 10 assists.

        Portland took a 74-65 lead when Greg Anthony dribbled along the baseline and found Walt Williams alone in the corner for a 3-pointer with 6:40 left. The basket came after two turnovers by Malone — a ball dropped out of bounds and an errant pass after he came up with a jump ball.

        A turnaround jumper by Grant made it 78-71 with 3:30 left. A one-handed jumper by Russell and two free throws by Stockton cut it to 78-75 with 2:35 left, but Rider kept up the pressure by hanging in the air and hitting a bank shot for an 80-75 lead with 2:17 to play.

        The Blazers led 64-61 to start the fourth quarter, and quickly stretched it to an eight-point lead, matching their biggest of the game on the hustle of Anthony, the backup to point guard Damon Stoudamire.

        Anthony first hit a wide-open 3-pointer on pass from Rasheed Wallace. At the other end, he fought after a loose ball, dribbled down the court and found Wallace for an open jumper to make it 69-61 with 11:10 left.

Grant receives NBA citizenship award
More NBA playoffs coverage from Associated Press

UTAH (80)
                      fg    ft    rb
               min   m-a   m-a   o-t  a pf   tp
Malone          45  3-16   2-3   1-7  6  3    8
Russell         39  6-12   4-4   2-5  1  4   17
Ostertag        21   1-3   1-2   1-5  0  3    3
Hornacek        35  5-10  9-10   0-6  2  6   21
Stockton        35   4-9   6-7   0-1 10  4   14
Eisley          14   1-5   1-2   0-1  1  1    3
Bailey          14   3-5   2-2   0-1  0  3    8
Anderson        26   1-3   0-0   0-2  0  3    2
Keefe           11   2-5   0-0   0-1  0  3    4
Foster         DNP - coach's decision
Fuller         DNP - coach's decision
Vaughn         DNP - coach's decision
TOTALS         240 26-68 25-30  4-29 20 30   80

Percentages: FG-.382, FT-.833. 3-Point Goals: 3-14, .214 (Russell 1-5, Hornacek 2-4, Stockton 0-2, Eisley 0-3). Team rebounds: 11. Blocked shots: 6 (Malone 2, Eisley, Ostertag, Anderson, Bailey). Turnovers: 10 (Malone 3, Eisley 2, Russell 2, Stockton 2, Bailey). Steals: 5 (Stockton 3, Russell 2).

PORTLAND (92) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp B Grant 40 2-5 3-4 2-12 0 5 7 Wallace 29 7-13 0-0 1-4 1 3 14 Sabonis 32 5-7 3-3 1-6 2 4 14 Rider 32 5-11 14-14 1-7 3 4 24 Stoudamire 29 1-8 1-3 0-2 4 3 3 Augmon 15 0-2 2-2 1-2 0 0 2 Williams 13 3-7 0-0 0-1 0 2 8 Oneal 5 0-1 0-0 0-3 0 1 0 Anthony 19 1-8 0-0 1-2 2 4 3 Jackson 26 4-7 8-8 1-3 6 3 17 Cato DNP - coach's decision G Grant DNP - coach's decision _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 28-69 31-34 8-42 18 29 92 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.406, FT-.912. 3-Point Goals: 5-15, .333 (Sabonis 1-1, Rider 0-1, Stoudamire 0-1, Williams 2-4, Anthony 1-6, Jackson 1-2). Team rebounds: 9. Blocked shots: 6 (B Grant 2, Anthony, Wallace, Sabonis, Oneal). Turnovers: 11 (Rider 4, Jackson 3, Anthony, Stoudamire, Wallace, Williams). Steals: 6 (Wallace 3, Rider, Sabonis, Williams). ____________________________________________ Utah 18 24 19 19 - 80 Portland 21 21 22 28 - 92 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Utah 1 (Illegal Defense, 0:54 2nd). Portland 1 (Wallace, 5:24 2nd). Flagrant fouls: Portland 1 (Jackson, 4:04 3rd). A: 20,727. T: 2:28. Officials: Steve Javie, Mike Mathis, Don Vaden.

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