Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/20

Game 1: Wednesday, November 20th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 15th
Game 3: Saturday, February 22nd
Game 4: Tuesday, March 18th

Jazz 92


Nuggets 81


    Coverage: FSRM

    7:00 PM ET, January 15, 2003

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 20 22 24 2692
    DEN 20 16 26 1981

    Top Performers

    UTAH: M. Harpring 17 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

    Den: N. Hilario 24 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

    No secret how Jazz beat Nuggets: Execution

    DENVER (AP) -- A big difference between veteran and young teams is an ability to execute in crucial situations.

    The Utah Jazz proved that against the Denver Nuggets.

    Matt Harpring had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Karl Malone had 16 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz held on to beat the Nuggets 92-81 Wednesday night.

    The youthful Nuggets used their exuberance to stay close midway through the fourth quarter, but the wily Jazz simply made more plays down the stretch.

    Utah ended the game with a 17-3 run, holding the Nuggets without a field goal over the final 6:35 for its 10th win in 13 games.

    "That's kind of what we hang our hat on, being able to execute or get to the foul line,'' said Utah's John Stockton, who had 13 points and nine assists. "If we execute things well, we're pretty good.''

    Denver trailed most of the second and third quarters, but used a 13-4 run to take a 77-72 lead on Nene Hilario's fadeway with 6:35 left.

    It didn't last.

    Harpring put the Jazz up 81-79 on a leaner with 3:45 left, then Greg Ostertag blocked consecutive shots by Hilario and Ryan Bowen.

    Stockton made just one of two free throws, but got his own rebound and was fouled again. His two free throws pushed Utah's lead to 84-79 with 2:35 left as the Jazz pulled away.

    The Nuggets cut it to four on a free throw by Hilario with 1:51 left, but Stockton hit Malone for a layup to push the lead 86-80. The Jazz sealed it with four straight free throws by Malone and Scott Padgett.

    "Sometimes if you can keep your composure at what you are doing, the other team will hopefully make a mistake in your favor,'' said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, whose team has won eight of 10 against Denver.

    The Nuggets had a chance at their third consecutive home win but were again plagued by poor shooting.

    Denver, the league's worst-shooting team, shot under 40 percent (39) for the 21st time this season and was just 20-of-33 from the free-throw line. The Nuggets also struggled with Utah's zone late, going 0-for-12 in the final 6 1/2 minutes.

    "When they went to the zone, our execution faltered a little bit,'' Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. I would like to see more production out of everybody, including myself.''

    One bright spot was Hilario, who continued to show why the Nuggets took him with the seventh pick of the 2002 NBA draft.

    He had seven rebounds and three assists by halftime, and opened the second half by hitting a short jumper after stealing a pass by Malone. Hilario followed with a dunk off a pass by Junior Harrington, then scored on a tough reverse that bounced on the rim three times before falling.

    He finished with a career-high 24 points and nine rebounds.

    "He is getting better and better and better,'' Bzdelik said. "You watch him recently and you can see that he has grown.''

    Both teams responded well to critical comments by their coaches early in the week.

    Bzdelik chided his players after they blew a big early lead in an 89-75 loss to Minnesota on Monday, saying not everyone was giving the same effort.

    The Nuggets seemed to have a little extra fire against the Jazz, with several players diving to the floor for loose balls early in the game.

    "Everybody was hustling,'' Harrington said. "I think coach got his message across pretty good.''

    Sloan complained Tuesday that his players don't always run the plays he calls, and he had a brief shouting match with Ostertag during a loss to Phoenix on Sunday.

    Ostertag spent most of the second half against the Suns on the bench but didn't seem to be bothered by it against Denver. He was aggressive early and even clenched his fists when a shot didn't fall in the first quarter.

    Ostertag blocked three shots in the first 6 minutes and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds before fouling out late.

    "Too much was made of it.'' Ostertag said. "It always a funny thing because it is a yearly ritual for us. You can't dwell on it. You have say what you have to say, get it off your chest and go on.''

    Game notes

    Denver F Chris Andersen has been cleared to play after missing nearly seven weeks with a broken right thumb. He didn't play against the Jazz but could be back in the lineup Friday against Cleveland. ... Howard, who finished with 12 points, received a technical late in the second quarter after being called for a foul against Malone. ... Utah's Tony Massenburg got a technical in the third for a foul call against Mark Blount. ... Utah is 8-1 against the Midwest Division this season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 92 81
    FGM-FGA 30-68 (.441) 29-74 (.392)
    3PM-3PA 3-4 (.750) 3-10 (.300)
    FTM-FTA 29-37 (.784) 20-33 (.606)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-44 13-37
    Assists 24 21
    Turnovers 20 12
    Steals 5 13
    Blocks 9 10
    Fast Break Points 6 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (1/0) 28 (3/0)

    Top Performers

    Matt Harpring Harpring
    Points: 17
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Nene Hilario Hilario
    Points: 24
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0