Jazz Honor Mailman But Lose to Wizards
Washington 109, Utah 97
SALT LAKE CITY, March 23 (Ticker) -- The Utah Jazz gave pause to commemorate Karl Malone but forgot to stop the Washington Wizards' 3-point shooters.
On the night when Malone was immortalized, Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler helped the Wizards drain a franchise-record 16 3-pointers en route to a 109-97 triumph over the Jazz.
"It's a great feeling to start off with your first win. I don't think, since I've been here, we've done that on the West Coast trip," Arenas said. "It's a great feeling because you go into the second game with a lot of positive energy."
Malone spent 18 of his 19 seasons with Utah, where he became the NBA's second all-time leading scorer. Before the game, his bronze statue was unveiled outside the Delta Center next to one of John Stockton, who is the all-time assists leader thanks to Malone's exploits.
"I'm really glad for what happened to Karl Malone, but these guys weren't involved in that that much," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "Their basic job is to get ready and play basketball, and I didn't think we came out with that intention."
At halftime, Malone had his No. 32 retired in a ceremony that featured Stockton, Sloan and NBA commissioner David Stern. But none of the celebration could cool off the Wizards, who shot 64 percent (16-of-25) from behind the arc.
"It comes down to we made shots," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "When you're open, you've got to make shots and that puts the pressure on the other team."
"We're stunned, too," Arenas said of the Wizards' record-setting night. "We did a great job for a team that doesn't give up. We knew it was going to be a hard-fought game. We just tried to keep the pressure on. We were just hot tonight."
Jamison drained all but one of his career-best seven 3-pointers in the first half, including a long buzzer-beater to make it 50-41 at the break after Utah had pared a 15-point deficit to six.
"I think this road trip is, for me, more personal," said Jamison, who scored 20 of his 27 points in the opening 24 minutes. "The last time we came out West, I kind of went into a slump. So I just didn't want that to happen again. The stakes are a little bit higher this time. I just want to make sure that I keep up my end of the bargain and make sure the team plays well."
The Jazz shaved the deficit to 54-50, but Arenas and Butler responded by scoring six points apiece in a 12-4 charge that made it 66-54 with 3:39 left in the third period.
"We didn't want to come out flat. That was one of our weaknesses over the last couple of weeks, coming out after halftime flat," said Butler, who scored 15 of his 27 points in the third quarter. "With the Karl Malone retirement and everything, we were in (the locker room) a little bit longer than usual. (We had to) come out and get some buckets quick."
Washington matched its biggest lead at 84-69 on a free throw by Antonio Daniels with 10:30 remaining. Utah proved difficult to shake as it again rallied behind Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko, whose dunk at the 2:22 mark made it 97-93.
Arenas, who made six 3-pointers en route to 31 points, drained one from deep 20 seconds later, and Utah got no closer than five points thereafter.
"We cut the lead and started coming back, but we just had some mental (lapses) on defense at the end and that cost us the game," Utah rookie guard Deron Williams said.
Boozer collected 30 points and nine rebounds and Kirilenko scored 21 points for Utah.
"They had 16 threes, and it's tough to beat a team that puts that many points on the board," Boozer said. "We made a run in the fourth quarter. We had a chance to win it, but they played well down the stretch."
Utah (32-36) fell two games behind Sacramento (34-34) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but the Jazz will have a chance to make up ground Saturday when the Kings come to town.
"We're going to have to forget about this and move on for Saturday because Saturday's going to be an even bigger game because we can move up an actual game," Boozer said.