SACRAMENTO, Cal., April 16 (Ticker) --
Anyone looking for a sneak
preview of the first-round playoff series between the Sacramento
Kings and Utah Jazz was extremely disappointed.
scored nine of his 11 points in the decisive
third quarter as the Kings defeated the Jazz, 95-84, in the
regular-season finale for these future playoff foes.
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The Kings and Jazz both knew before the game that they would be
playing each other in the first round of the playoffs for the
second straight year and third time in five years.
"I don't know if that means much, we've played each other too
many times," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, whose club went 1-3
against the Kings this season. "I doubt they're losing any
sleep over playing us. We know they're a better team this year
"There's no doubt in my mind they are much better than last
year," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "(Karl) Malone
never get old. You add (Matt) Harpring
, he's a really
good player. I think they are just much more of an all-around
offensive team. They're the best shooting team in the league."
Although they know each other's tendencies very well, neither
team was in any hurry to overwork its key players or show any
new wrinkles. Sacramento's starters all played between 25 and
28 minutes and Utah's starters played between 18 and 24 minutes.
"Our objective was just to go out and play and not get rusty,"
said Harpring, who scored 15 points in 24 minutes. "We knew we
weren't going to play the whole game and the Kings were doing
the same thing. It was just a game to get warmed up for the
"This game really didn't mean anything for us," said Kings
center Vlade Divac
, who had six points in 25 minutes. "The real
show is going to be on Saturday. We know each other really
well. So we tried to rest players who played a lot of minutes."
The Kings (59-23) won the Pacific Division for the second
straight season and claimed the second seed in the Western
Conference. The Jazz (47-35) finished seventh in the West.
The Kings trailed, 45-37, at halftime but took control in the
third quarter. They caught the Jazz at 56-56 on a layup by
Divac with 4:33 remaining.
A 3-pointer by Stojakovic gave Sacramento the lead for good at
61-60 with 3:42 to go and started a 12-2 surge that widened the
advantage to 70-62 entering the final period.
Two free throws by Tony Massenburg
pulled the Jazz within 74-72
with 8:13 left. But Jimmy Jackson
made a 3-pointer, Hedo
Turkoglu sank a jumper and Utah never threatened thereafter.
"Those guys came out and played awfully hard with the guys they
had on the court," Kings guard Bobby Jackson said. "We know at
the end of a playoff game, it's not gonna be the same guys out
there at the end. We just know Karl Malone and John Stockton
are gonna be in the game in the fourth quarter."
scored 15 points and Mike Bibby
added 14 for the
Kings, who won their last seven home games to finish 35-6 at
Malone scored just eight points and Stockton was shut out.
scored 15 points and Carlos Arroyo added 12 for
the Jazz, who are headed to their 20th straight postseason.
"We're gonna watch some tape tomorrow to try and learn what they
like to do," Bibby said. "We just wanted to learn what they
might try to do against us but also wanted to get the win. I
don't worry about other teams really. I just worry about the