Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Malone Helps Jazz Oust Lakers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Malone Helps Jazz Oust Lakers

Article excerpt

In overtime, Utah's strategy was as predictable as it was unstoppable.

Give the ball to Karl Malone and try to stay out of his way.

That was just fine with the Jazz power forward, who responded with a performance underscoring his bid for league MVP: 32 points, including six of Utah's nine overtime points, and 20 rebounds in a 98-93 victory Monday night that eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers from the NBA playoffs. The outcome put the Jazz in the Western Conference title for the fourth time in six years. In the three previous appearances, they have failed to reach the NBA Finals. "I knew they were going to run a lot of plays for me in overtime," Malone said with a grin after giving the Jazz a 4-1 decision in the best-of-7 second-round series. "I never forget my own plays; it gives you a chance to be the hero, or the goat." With the two teams tied 89-89 at the end of regulation, Malone put Utah ahead to stay, 91-89, by making two free throws 36 seconds into overtime. He also hit a pair of jumpers as the Jazz outscored the Lakers 9-4 in the extra period. He credited a thunderous Delta Center crowd of 19,911 with lifting him when it mattered most. "We went into overtime after dodging a bullet, and we got the fans into this thing," Malone said. "I can't really describe the energy and the confidence that the guys had; it was a great win." John Stockton had 24 points and 10 assists for the Jazz, who will play the winner of the Houston-Seattle series in the Western finals. The Rockets lead 3-1, with Game 5 tonight. "It's going to be a dogfight. In the Western Conference championship, you can't expect anything less," Stockton predicted. The Lakers promised Game 5 would be physical, and it was. A total of 61 fouls were called, with L.A. having 31. Lakers forward Robert Horry was ejected in the third quarter after taking a swing at Utah's Jeff Hornacek, and Los Angeles center Shaquille O'Neal fouled out with 1:47 left in regulation. …

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