SALT LAKE CITY, April 28 (Ticker) --
For 24 minutes, it looked like John
and Karl Malone
would play at least one more game at
the Delta Center. Then Peja Stojakovic
, Chris Webber
and the Sacramento Kings took over.
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Stojakovic scored 27 points and Webber added 26 as the Kings
pulled away for 99-82 victory over the Utah Jazz and took a
commanding three games to one lead in their Western Conference
The Jazz had a 41-37 halftime lead but made just one basket in
the final 3 1/2 minutes. Sacramento carried the momentum into
the third quarter and outscored Utah, 36-18. That increased the
likelihood that Malone and Stockton played their final home
game as teammates.
Malone will be a free agent and has hinted he wants to play for
a championship contender. Stockton, 41, has not announced
whether he plans to retire.
Malone scored 24 points and Stockton had 12 and seven assists.
Both players exited to standing ovations with less than three
minutes remaining and the outcome already decided.
Stockton and Malone rank first and second among active players
with 19 and 18 consecutive postseason appearances, respectively.
"Well, you can say that anytime you go out on the floor, so I've
taken that approach for a long time and try to play it like
it's your last one," Stockton said. "As for the rest, we'll all
decide that in the end. But I don't think we'll put too much
thought into that until then."
"You can't underestimate Stockton and Malone," Webber said.
"The respect and fear factor is always there when you play
against them, just because in 18 years, 19 years, there's not
much that they haven't seen."
Malone said he wasn't thinking about the possibility this was
his last game in Salt Lake City as a member of the Jazz.
"It's just not a good time to talk about that right now," the
39-year-old Malone said. "We have another game to play."
Stojakovic had just five points in the first half but scored 15
in the third quarter. The Kings took the lead for good with
6:32 remaining in the period when Vlade Divac's
hook shot made
Game Five is Wednesday at Sacramento.
"Is the series over? How do you want me to answer that?"
Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "If they aren't going to
fly to Sacramento, we'll take it. But that isn't going to
happen. This team isn't going to go away. We had a great
second half, but that doesn't mean anything going to Sacramento
that we are going to win."
Two days after getting an unlikely performance from Greg
, the Jazz could not keep up with the Kings in the
second half, who forged a 47-47 tie on Stojakovic's second
straight 3-pointer with 9:45 remaining.
Stojakovic then rebounded his own miss and gave the Kings a
51-49 lead, their first since the opening quarter.
"I just need a couple of open shots in the third quarter and I
knocked them down, and that's how I got going," Stojakovic said.
"I found my rhythm and when we get the offense at our tempo,
it's much easier for me."
Moments later Divac put Sacramento ahead for good. Mike Bibby
who scored 11 points, had two jumpers and a layup for a 61-57
lead with 2:56 to go. Stojakovic followed with another
3-pointer and the Kings never looked back, closing the period on
a 9-2 run and holding Utah without a basket for the final 1:55.
After clicking at 34 percent (17-of-50) in the first half, the
Kings shot 15-of-25 in the third quarter while holding Utah to
three baskets in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the period.
"In the first half, it was unbelievable how we played," Kings
guard Bobby Jackson
said. "We couldn't believe how we was
playing. We knew what we had to do in the second half and we
just came out and picked it up."
"We did the same thing in the third quarter that we did in the
first half," Bibby added. "We just knew if we kept shooting, we
would come into our game. In the third quarter, (Stojakovic)
got hot and everyone was hitting baskets and that's when we got
The Kings shot 60 percent (24-of-40) after halftime. They never
let the lead slip below double digits after Malone scored his
final basket to make it 75-66 with 9:58 remaining.
Stojakovic followed with a pair of baskets and a jumper by
Jackson made it 88-73 with just under six minutes left. The
Jazz got no closer than 13 points the rest of the way as they
suffered the third-worst home playoff loss in team history.
Stojkovic shot 10-of-16, Webber was 13-of-25 and Bibby recovered
from a 1-for-10 showing in the first half by making 4-of-6
shots in the second half.
The Jazz shot 39 percent (28-of-72) and committed 22 turnovers,
leading to 16 points for the Kings.
"We have to take care of the ball and we have to execute," said
Stockton, who had five turnovers. "I thought we panicked a
little bit and tried to find things that weren't there. That's
not a way we play, and we know that sometimes it's just hard to
break out of that once you're in it."