Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/28

Game 1: Saturday, December 28th
Game 2: Friday, February 28th

76ers 69

(18-11, 5-9 away)

Jazz 98


    Coverage: CSN

    7:00 PM ET, December 28, 2002

    EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHI 12 17 13 2769
    UTAH 22 22 33 2198

    Top Performers

    Philadelphia: K. Thomas 10 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Utah: M. Harpring 20 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

    Jazz win includes rat tossing, Sixers' ineptness

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A 29-point win by the Utah Jazz was nearly overshadowed by a rat.

    Karl Malone

    The little, black rodent was thrown onto the court by an unknown fan and briefly interrupted the Jazz's 98-69 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.

    The bizarre scene stood out in an ugly game that included 41 turnovers, 100 missed shots and 42 fouls.

    "Probably died from the impact. Poor little fella,'' said Utah's Karl Malone, who was about to attempt the second of two free throws when the rat hit the court and skidded to a stop at Malone's feet.

    "People do all kinds of crazy stuff out there,'' Malone said. "Nothing surprises me anymore.''

    It clearly did surprise him at the moment. The 6-foot-9 Mailman was startled and took a step back before teammate Scott Padgett kicked the rat away.

    Padgett and Matt Harpring both thought the rat was fake, but assistant trainer Terry Clark, who disposed of the rodent, assured it was real.

    "That's disgusting,'' Harpring said after learning it wasn't a fake.

    It wasn't known whether the rat was alive or dead when it was thrown. The person responsible for throwing it ran from the arena and went across the street to a shopping complex, where he eluded security guards.

    Malone and Harpring both scored 20 points and had eight rebounds as the Jazz handed the Sixers their fifth straight road loss. That's not a good omen for Philadelphia, which opened a five-game road trip with its lowest point total of the season.

    "This is the way we've been playing for a long time,'' Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "We've gotten by because we've had a favorable schedule against some teams that weren't playing very well.''

    The Jazz won for the fourth time in five games while hitting half their shots (36-for-72). Utah reserves played nearly all of the fourth quarter as the aging Jazz rested after their second game in two nights.

    Calbert Cheaney, who sprained an ankle the night before in a loss at Portland, added 11 points and Padgett finished with 10 points and eight rebounds for Utah, which pulled down 45 rebounds to Philadelphia's 33.

    Allen Iverson led the Sixers with 13 points, matching his season low.

    The Sixers had not played in a week, and it showed. Philadelphia was just 24-for-68 from the floor and had 21 turnovers.

    Keith Van Horn and Kenny Thomas each scored 10 for Philadelphia, which hasn't won on the road since beating Washington on Nov. 30. The Sixers scored just 77 in a loss at Atlanta the week before in their last game before a holiday break.

    Frustrated by the performance, Brown had pulled most of his starters by midway through the second half.

    "I should have taken them out a long time before that,'' Brown said.

    Only former University of Utah standout Van Horn stayed in, and he was pulled with a few minutes left.

    The Sixers couldn't stop the Jazz during a 24-4 run to open the third quarter. After Van Horn cut Utah's lead with a dunk that made it 44-31, the Jazz scored the next 10 points, including a 3-pointer by Cheaney and four points from Harpring, who also had a block during the run.

    Iverson ended the Sixers' drought with a jumper, but the Jazz responded with 12 more unanswered points. Harpring's layup with 4:39 left ended the run and put the Jazz up 68-33, prompting a Philadelphia timeout.

    It was a little too late for that.

    Harpring started 81 games for the Sixers last season and was fifth on the team in scoring at 11.5 points per game. He's flourished with the Jazz after signing as a free agent over the summer, and trails only Malone in average points at 17.6 points per game. Malone is averaging 18.2.

    "It's satisfying to get the win, but I try not to get caught up in it because you don't want to make it an individual game,'' Harpring said. "It's great to get the win and move on.''

    Game notes

    University of Utah coach Rick Majerus was courtside to watch Van Horn, who played for him. The former Ute got a loud ovation when he was the first Philadelphia starter introduced. Iverson also got some cheers, with a few boos mixed in. ... Snow grinned at Harpring and trotted to his former teammate for a quick hug before tipoff. ... Kenny Satterfield, picked up by Philadelphia off waivers Monday, made his 76ers debut and had two points in 19 minutes. ... Utah's Greg Ostertag blocked Todd McCulloch on consecutive possessions in the first quarter as the Jazz broke a 10-all tie with a 10-0 run.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 69 98
    FGM-FGA 24-68 (.353) 36-72 (.500)
    3PM-3PA 2-5 (.400) 3-9 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 19-29 (.655) 23-26 (.885)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-33 12-45
    Assists 17 26
    Turnovers 21 20
    Steals 10 12
    Blocks 3 13
    Fast Break Points 7 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (1/1) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Kenny Thomas Thomas
    Points: 10
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2
    Matt Harpring Harpring
    Points: 20
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 1