Malone ties career-high with 10 assists in win

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Mailman delivered in a different way.

Karl Malone, who is No. 2 on the all-time NBA scoring list,
complemented his 20 points by tying a career high with 10 assists
in the Utah Jazz's 99-89 win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday

"I've shot it enough. I don't mind passing. I needed to get my
teammates involved,'' Malone said.

It was the Nuggets' 14th consecutive road loss and eighth
straight overall.

Utah was able to salvage a 3-2 record during a five-game
homestand despite a sluggish start. Malone's teammates credited the
39-year-old's unsung passing ability for the win.

"He's a good passer. If you cut, he'll find you,'' said Matt
Harpring, who had 14 points.

Calbert Cheaney scored 15 points and Scott Padgett added 11 for
Utah, which used a big third quarter to pull away.

Juwan Howard had 20 points and Junior Harrington scored 16 for
the Nuggets. After an uninspired, sloppy first half that ended with
the score tied at 41, the Jazz held the Nuggets scoreless for the
first 4:25 of the third quarter on their way to outscoring Denver
27-13 in the period.

"We had that stretch in the third quarter where we finally
started playing,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We got after it
and played hard, trying to get the game in our favor.''

Malone scored seven points during an 11-2 run that gave Utah a
54-43 lead. The Nuggets got the deficit back to nine moments later
but the Jazz scored seven quick points and never led by less than
10 again until the game's final minute.

Andrei Kirilenko and Padgett hit open 3-pointers on Utah's first
two possessions of the fourth quarter for a 74-54 lead.

"Fortunately, we got a good enough lead to where we didn't
(have to) play our best basketball to finish it out,'' said
Stockton, who scored all 11 of his points in the second half.

The Nuggets scored a season-high 35 points in the fourth quarter
and rallied to get within six, 95-89, with 47 seconds to play but
it was too late for Denver as Harpring and Stockton made free
throws to seal the win.

"I'm pleased with our effort. Our guys really battled and never
ever gave up,'' Denver coach Jeff Bzedlik said. "The bad start to
the third quarter was just too much to overcome.''

Just before Thursday's trading deadline, the Nuggets sent center
Mark Blount and forward Mark Bryant to Boston for guard Shammond
Williams. Williams, who averaged 7.3 points and 2.5 assists in 51
games with the Celtics, played 29 minutes and scored 13 points.

"People don't realize that Denver has one of the best defenses
in the league. They play hard and aggressive. It was almost enough
tonight,'' said Cheaney, who played with the Nuggets last season.

Game notes
Marcus Camby played a season-high 19 minutes after missing
the Nuggets' 85-77 loss to Minnesota Wednesday with a sprained
ankle, the 50th game he's missed this season. ... Malone executed
his trademark left hand-behind-the-head dunk on a breakaway midway
through the third quarter. ... Greg Ostertag recorded his 1,000th
career blocked shot. ... Official Ted Bernhardt whistled Malone and
Donnell Harvey for a double technical foul and then attempted to
explain the call while gathering them close. Malone shouted over
and over, "Don't touch me!''


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