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Utah extends winning streak to five games

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- John Stockton got exactly what he wanted
for his 41st birthday -- a win.

Stockton became the seventh 41-year-old in NBA history and
recorded 10 assists as the Utah Jazz extended their winning streak
to five games by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 94-85 Wednesday
night.

"No question. Losing on your birthday wouldn't be a lot of
fun," Stockton said. "It's a great game and there's nothing like
it."

Karl Malone scored 24 points and Matt Harpring had 18 points and
nine rebounds as Utah guaranteed an 18th straight winning season
and edged closer in the Western Conference playoff standings to the
Trail Blazers.

Portland has lost three straight and saw its lead over the Jazz
for fifth place in the West drop to two games.

"That's what you want work at. You want to look forward to who
you can catch rather than who can catch you," Stockton said.

In addition to the victory, Stockton got another wish: No
celebration at the Delta Center other than a few signs and "Happy
Birthday!" shouts from the stands.

It was business as usual for the quiet Stockton, who leads the
NBA in career assists and steals.

"You just come to expect it," Malone said of his teammate for
18 seasons. "I'm sure he'll do that until he's finished. If he's
42 and playing, he'll be doing the same thing."

Andrei Kirilenko added 13 points and four blocks off the bench
for the Jazz, who shot 50 percent (35-for-70) and held the Trail
Blazers to 13 points in the third quarter. Utah led by double
figures the entire second half, never letting the Trail Blazers
closer than 12 until the final minute while improving to a
season-best 13 games above .500 (42-29).

Portland, which was playing for the second straight night,
continued to struggle. Rasheed Wallace scored 21, but was the only
starter in double figures. Portland was held scoreless for the
first 3{ minutes of the second quarter and didn't score for four
minutes to open the third.

"They just beat us in pretty much every area," Portland coach
Maurice Cheeks said. "It was a well-played game by them and a
tired, poorly played game by us."

It was the 16th time this season and 858th time in his career
Stockton has recorded 10 or more assists. His 10th assist
Wednesday, appropriately, was on a full-court pass to Malone, whose
one-handed dunk gave the Jazz a 90-68 lead with 3:51 left.

Stockton was pulled with 2:46 remaining and got a standing
ovation from most of the remaining crowd of 19,628.

Stockton didn't look like one of the oldest players in the NBA.
On a diving steal attempt with 4:32 left in the third quarter,
Stockton went full speed toward the baseline and knocked the ball
out of bounds. He hit the base of the basket and a cameraman, but
got up quickly and received a loud cheer on his way to the bench.

"That's Stock. He's been playing that way forever," said
Harpring, who hit two 3-pointers as the Jazz went on a 10-0 run
after Stockton's steal attempt. "He's amazing. He's 41 and still
playing NBA basketball. He's playing against guys that are 21 and
beating them."

Utah's good fortune continued early in the fourth, when Jazz
center Greg Ostertag tried to feed Kirilenko for an alley-oop, but
the ball banked in for the first field goal of the quarter.
Ostertag, not known for his high shooting percentage, laughed his
way down the court and several teammates on the bench joined him.

Calbert Cheaney added 10 points for the Jazz. Jeff McInnis
scored 15 and Zach Randolph added 11 points for Portland

Game notes
The Jazz made their first five field goal attempts and led
27-18 at the end of the first quarter. The Blazers were called for
three offensive fouls in the quarter and allowed the Jazz to shoot
65 percent (13-for-20). ... With the Trail Blazers down 79-57,
Portland coach Maurice Cheeks was called for a technical foul for
yelling at the officials when the play was in front of the Blazer
bench.

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