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Jazz Left Fuming in Payton's Place

May 04, 2000|From Associated Press

SEATTLE — It didn't seem likely the Seattle SuperSonics would get another chance to play in Salt Lake City this postseason.

Considered all but dead after two woeful performances at Utah, the SuperSonics are headed back there for a deciding Game 5 in their first-round playoff series with the Jazz.

Gary Payton had his first career playoff triple-double with 35 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, while Rashard Lewis had 20 points and Vin Baker had 18 as the SuperSonics made it two consecutive wins at home with a 104-93 victory Wednesday night.

"If we play like this again Friday night, we'll be OK," Payton said. "Everybody is playing well for us. It's a lot easier when everybody is playing well."

Game 5 will be Friday night and the winner moves on to face Portland in a best-of-seven second-round series that begins Sunday at Portland.

"This team has not played it's best game yet," SuperSonic guard Brent Barry said. "In order to win Game 5, we're going to have to."

The SuperSonics held Utah to seven points on three-for-21 shooting in the second quarter, but the Jazz came back to get within two points with 7:16 left. But Payton helped the SuperSonics pull away again as he had 15 points in the final period.

"We were executing pretty well in the first quarter," Utah Coach Jerry Sloan said. "All of a sudden, we quit executing in the second quarter."

Byron Russell led the Jazz with 26 points, while Karl Malone had 23 points and 14 rebounds.

In an emotional fourth quarter when Malone and Sloan were both ejected after receiving their second technical fouls, Jeff Hornacek made a three-pointer to cut Seattle's lead to 82-80.

But the SuperSonics got two free throws from Payton with 6:50 to go and the 20-year-old Lewis made another free throw before Greg Ostertag of the Jazz made a free throw with 5:45 left to make it 85-81.

Payton then made a three-pointer, Lewis made a five-footer and then another free throw and Seattle had a 91-81 lead with 4:15 left.

Sloan was thrown out with 1:11 left and Malone was ejected with 24 seconds to play. Malone departed after a jawing match with Payton, when Payton also was called for a technical.

The Jazz was whistled for six technicals, all in the second half and four in the last 3:40 of the game. Ostertag and Hornacek also received technicals.

"No, we didn't lose our composure," Malone said. "I don't regret anything that happened. But if we would have had this intensity in Game 3, we would have won that one."

Payton refused to give details of his exchange with Malone.

"What we had to say to each other, that's between him and me," Payton said. "If he wants to carry it over to Game 5, that's OK with me. Me and him have never got at it like that before."

SuperSonic Coach Paul Westphal took a shot at the way the Jazz play.

"They know how to flop and make it look worse than it is," he said. "When I got old as a player, I played that way too."

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