SALT LAKE CITY — John Stockton had plenty of doubters when he came into the National Basketball Assn., but he's made them all believe.
Stockton had a career-high 26 points and 13 assists Monday night to lead the Utah Jazz to a 116-95 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
"Stockton is a great guard," Seattle Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "He has really improved. He dishes the ball out well and he raises the level of play of the other four players on the court."
Stockton hit 9 of 10 attempts from the floor--his only miss was blocked by Tom Chambers.
Stockton made 11 of Utah's first 14 points, helping the Jazz to an early lead, which they never relinquished. Stockton also made 8 of 8 free throws and had five steals.
"I'm very happy for John," Utah Coach Frank Layden said. "He played a tremendous game, but then he's capable of playing like that regularly.
"John wasn't the only player who played well tonight. I can't think of one of our players who didn't have a good game.
Thurl Bailey had 29 points and 10 rebounds for Utah, and Karl Malone added 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Stockton scored 18 of his points in the first half, helping the Jazz jump ahead, 28-17, after one period and 56-36 at halftime. Bailey added 17 of his points in the second half as Utah stayed comfortably in front.
"I felt good about my game tonight," Bailey said. "I worked hard on it all summer, and it's starting to pay off."
Dale Ellis had 29 points for Seattle, Chambers added 13 and Xavier McDaniel and Sam Vincent had 12 each.
Stockton was more impressed with Utah's free-throw shooting (29 of 36), which has been less than impressive recently.
"It was nice to win," he said, "but it was also great to have a good night from the free-throw line. We've been working hard on that."