SAN ANTONIO — Karl Malone is back. In a big way.
Malone recovered from a sub-par performance in Game 3 to score 34 points and lead the Utah Jazz to an 82-73 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth game of their Western Conference semifinal series Sunday.
Utah holds a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
Malone, after shooting six for 21 on Saturday, was 17 for 28 from the field Sunday. He didn't attempt a free throw the entire game.
"I haven't got into a flow or rhythm of like three or four or five games in a row, like I did during some parts of this season," Malone said. "It was a good game. Hopefully, on Tuesday, I'll have the big game that qualifies that."
Malone left the Spurs dizzy on Sunday.
"I can use two words to describe the game, Karl Malone," Spur guard Avery Johnson said. "We didn't do anything as a team to keep him under control."
The man who tried to cover him agreed.
"Karl was as good as he could be shooting the ball," said center David Robinson, who was burned several times by Malone's fadeaway jumper.
The Jazz fended off a late comeback attempt by the Spurs, thanks mostly to Malone. He scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, answering with a basket almost every time the Spurs inched closer.
"It was a tough loss and makes the first two losses even worse," Robinson said. "But this series isn't over yet."
"It's do or die," Johnson said. "We know we can play with them up there."
Rookie Tim Duncan, who sprained his ankle in overtime of Game 2 and appeared hobbled in Game 3, led the Spurs with 22 points on eight-for-18 shooting. Robinson added 15 points on five-of-13 shooting and 11 rebounds.
"I think our guys played smart. No quick shots," Utah Coach Jerry Sloan said. "When we play under control we keep the game under control with our offense, not our defense."