Jazz Ousts Nuggets, Avoids Making History

Article excerpt

The Utah Jazz, desperate to avoid one of the most embarrassing defeats in National Basketball Association history, finally ended the Denver Nuggets' memorable playoff run Saturday.

Karl Malone scored 31 points as Utah halted its playoff skid against the upstart Nuggets with a 91-81 victory in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

"Everybody loves Cinderella, everybody loves the underdog. So it was neat to get the job done," Malone said.

As the 17th successive home team to win a Game 7, Utah avoided the embarrassment of becoming the first team to lose a playoff series after leading 3-0.

Malone hit 12 of 23 shots and also pulled down 14 rebounds as the Jazz earned only its second trip to the conference finals. In 1992, Utah lost in six games to Portland.

But Malone said it was too early to rejoice.

"Houston will be tough," he said. "Until we touch untouched waters, I have nothing to celebrate. We've been to the Western Conference finals before."

Jeff Hornacek scored 18 points for the Jazz, which will face the Houston Rockets in a series that starts Monday in Houston. …

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