Kirilenko scores 27 as Utah gets back on track

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Andrei Kirilenko knew he was getting
a chance because of some rare circumstances Friday night, and he
made the most of it.

Kirilenko started in place of the ill Karl Malone and scored a
career-high 27 points to lead the Utah Jazz to a 100-97 victory
over the Detroit Pistons.

"We knew that with Karl out, everyone on the team had to play
over the top," the rookie said. "He's our leader on offense and
our leader on defense. But this was a big game, and we really
needed to win it. I want to play in the NBA playoffs."

Utah broke a four-game losing streak despite the absence of
Malone, who had flu-like symptoms and missed a game for health
reasons for the first time in nearly 13 years.

"You aren't going to win many games without Karl Malone," Utah
coach Jerry Sloan said. "He is such an important part of what we
do. But we ran the floor and seemed to get better baskets. Andrei
was awfully quick."

Donyell Marshall and Jarron Collins added 16 each for Utah,
while John Stockton had 14 points and 10 assists.

"Karl's a Hall of Famer and our best player, so one guy isn't
going to replace him," Collins said. "Every guy on the team has
to step it up when he's not on the floor."

Jerry Stackhouse, who missed Detroit's previous game with hip
and shoulder injuries, led the Pistons with 24 points, while Cliff
Robinson added 19.

"This should have been our game," Stackhouse said. "They made
some big shots and we made some mental mistakes at the end.
Hopefully, we can bounce back from it."

Detroit opened a 96-90 lead with less than three minutes to play
after a jumper and a 3-pointer by Jon Barry. Utah tied the game at
96 when John Starks and Stockton hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

"We just had a couple of defensive lapses," Barry said. "We
allowed them a couple decent looks at 3s and they hit them to
tie the game."

After Collins drew a charge on Damon Jones, Starks missed a
jumper but Collins grabbed the rebound. Stockton hit the go-ahead
basket with 40 seconds left.

"I saw that Jones was a little out of control, so I stepped in
and hoped they would give me the call," Collins said. "They won't
always call it that late. Then on the other end, I was just trying
to hit the boards as hard as I could and keep us alive."

Stockton fouled Ben Wallace, a 42-percent free throw shooter on
the other end, and he split the shots to leave Detroit down a
point. The Pistons fouled Marshall, who made one of two to make the
score 99-97 with 20.7 seconds left.

Stackhouse missed a baseline 3 and Stockton grabbed the rebound
and was fouled. An 87-percent shooter from the line, he only made
one of two, giving Detroit a chance to tie.

But Stackhouse missed again, shooting over Kirilenko, and even
though Damon Jones got the rebound, he couldn't get to the 3-point
line for a good shot before the buzzer.

"I saw Jon Barry set a pick on Bryon Russell, so I tried to
step toward Stackhouse," he said. "I don't think I blocked it,
but I made him shoot it over me."

Kirilenko replaced Malone in the starting lineup and responded
with the best half of his career, scoring 20 points to lead Utah to
a 49-40 halftime lead.

"Andrei really got us going early on," Marshall said. "We
didn't find out until the last minute that Karl wasn't playing, but
Andrei stepped it up."

Detroit narrowed the gap during a foul-filled third quarter. The
officials called 20 fouls in the period, good for 23 free-throw
attempts. Stackhouse went 8-for-8 from the line, helping the
Pistons cut the margin to 75-70 with 12 minutes left.

Game notes
Malone missed games on April 21-22, 1989 with a sprained
ankle. He has missed four games since, all due to suspensions. ...
Malone leads Utah in points, rebounds and steals. ... Recording
star Bruce Hornsby attended the game as a guest of Pistons coach
Rick Carlisle. ... When Wallace was fouled with 4:15 left, Barry
went to the line, but the officials made the change after Utah
protested. Wallace split the free throws. ... The teams play again Tuesday in Utah.