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Malone scores 29 after All-Star snub

1/29/2003

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Karl Malone is planning to enjoy his
free time during the All-Star break this year -- he isn't
participating in the game for the first time in 15 seasons.

He insists such events aren't what motivate him anyway.

Malone had 29 points, 10 rebounds and six assists just hours
after being left off the All-Star team, and the Utah Jazz snapped a
seven-game losing streak to Sacramento by beating the Kings 102-92
Tuesday night.

"I try not to get caught up in all that," Malone said. "As
long as I can keep helping this team win, that's what means the
most to me."

Utah coach Jerry Sloan pushed official Courtney Kirkland in the
chest and was ejected in the first quarter. But Malone helped the
Jazz recover from an early deficit to end a three-game losing
streak.

The Kings, who lost leading scorer Chris Webber to a sprained
left ankle, have dropped three straight for the second time this
season.

Sloan and Kirkland exchanged words face-to-face after Sloan
argued that Kings guard Doug Christie stepped out of bounds on the
sideline right near where Kirkland was standing.

"I couldn't understand him with all the noise, but I know it
wasn't good," Kirkland said. "I have sensitive ears."

Several Jazz players criticized Kirkland for his reaction to
Sloan.

"Everybody wants to say what lines athletes and coaches
shouldn't cross," Malone said. "You've got to have lines for
officials, too."

The ejection came during a timeout with 2:34 left in the first
quarter, seconds after Christie drove to the basket and was fouled.
He made both free throws. Sloan was suspended one game and fined
for pushing an official in 1993, and the Jazz expect a suspension.

"I'm always ready," said Utah's top assistant, Phil Johnson,
who served two head coaching stints with the Kings' franchise.

The second-leading scorer in NBA history, Malone is not going to
the All-Star game for the first time since 1987 -- and he claims it
doesn't matter.

"You don't control it, and there ain't nothing you can do about
it," he said before the game. "I got nominated 14 times, but they
don't pick you now, what can you do about it?"

John Stockton added 20 points and nine assists for the Jazz. He
made a 3-pointer with 2:29 left after the Kings had pulled to
96-88.

While the Jazz played without their coach, the Kings were
without Webber for most of the game.

Webber, who averages 23.5 points per game, went up for a hook
shot over Scott Padgett and appeared to come down on Padgett's foot
in the second quarter. He limped off the court with help from two
teammates with 10:33 left in the period and did not return. The
severity of his injury was not expected to be known until
Wednesday.

Webber missed the first 20 games last season with a high ankle
sprain on the same foot.

Yet more bad news for the Kings: forward Scot Pollard broke his
right hand late in the third quarter. The Kings weren't sure how he
was injured. Pollard was playing for the first time after missing
42 games with a stress fracture in his lower back. He was scheduled
to see a hand specialist Wednesday and is expected to miss 6-to-8
weeks. He has the same injury as backup point guard Bobby Jackson.

Peja Stojakovic led the Kings with 32 points and six rebounds,
while Mike Bibby added 18 points and five assists.

The Kings pulled within seven with 3:48 left in the third
quarter after back-to-back 3-pointers by Bibby and Stojakovic, and
got within five heading into the fourth period. But they went cold
early in the fourth, missing seven of their first eight shots.

And they couldn't overcome their worst effort at Arco Arena this
season, and among their poorest outings at home in recent years.

The Kings' eight-point second quarter was their worst of the
season -- their previous low was 10 points on Nov. 27 at Minnesota.
They started the period 1-for-16, and the Jazz used a 15-0 run to
build a 53-40 halftime lead after trailing by as many as 12 early.

One fan hollered "Can we score?" when Sacramento had only
three points in the period at the 4:35 mark in the second quarter.
The Kings were 3-for-21 in the quarter for 14 percent. They missed
12 straight shots during one stretch.

"We couldn't score points,'' center Vlade Divac said. "We
couldn't stop them. They beat us by 20 in the second quarter. That
pretty much decided the game."

Sacramento shot 40 percent for the game to Utah's 54 percent.

Game notes
Utah has scored 100 or more points in 11 straight games.
... Jackson has not been with the team for a week because of the
death of his mother. There was a moment of silence for Sara Jackson
before Tuesday's game, and the Sacramento players wore armbands
with her name and Bobby's No. 24. ... The officiating was
challenged all game. There was an ``inadvertent whistle'' in the
final minute.

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