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Jazz win includes rat tossing, Sixers' ineptness

12/29/2002

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

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.