Malone leads Utah charge with 25 points


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Utah Jazz spoiled Elton Brand's return.

Karl Malone scored 25 points and Matt Harpring had 17 as the
Jazz blew a 15-point lead before beating the Clippers 95-89 Tuesday
night for their 21st victory in the last 24 meetings between the

"We're very confident that if we play our style of basketball
and execute and trust each other, we can beat anybody. It's been
proven throughout the course of the season," guard Mark Jackson
said. "The problem is, when we don't do that, then anybody can
beat us."

Brand, the Clippers' leading scorer and rebounder, returned to
action after missing 18 games with a stress fracture above his
right ankle. Brand, who helped the Clippers end a 26-game winless
streak against the Jazz in Utah earlier this season, finished with
12 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes.

"It's been the worst, sitting there and watching, because I
wanted to be out there playing," Brand said. "I was happy with my
performance, but we didn't get the win. We didn't run our sets and
we missed free throws."

John Stockton had 12 points and 10 assists, helping lead the
Jazz to their seventh win in eight games.

Utah is sixth in the Western Conference playoff race, 1½ games
behind Minnesota and a full game ahead of the seventh-place Lakers.

"We're not there yet. We've still got eight games left, so
we'll see," Malone said. "We just have to execute, stay within
our stuff, do what we're supposed to do as a team and believe in
each other, and then we'll be fine."

Corey Maggette scored 16 of his 23 points in the third quarter
but could not prevent their Clippers' 23rd loss in 29 games and
ninth straight home loss to the Jazz. Their last two ``home'' wins
against them were at the Pond at Anaheim. They haven't beaten the
Jazz in Los Angeles since Dec. 30, 1996.

"I think other teams know that everyone on this team has a lot
of capability and talent. We just have to learn to play as a
collective group," Maggette said. "This year, because of a lot of
things that went on, we didn't get a chance to do that. But you
still can't come in here and take us lightly, because you never
know. We could have a good night. But it just so happens that we
had a lot of bad nights this year."

Lamar Odom, who had only four points in 29 minutes on 1-for-12
shooting, sank two free throws, and Miller's layup put the Clippers
ahead 86-85 with 1:10 to play. Stockton regained the lead for Utah
with a 15-footer.

The Jazz made it 89-86 when Harpring sneaked behind Brand,
stripped him of the ball and went the length of the court for a

"It was huge," Malone said. "I told Matt they'd run the play
for him, and I knew for a fact that he wasn't going to pass. He
wasn't going to score. Sometimes, when a guy gets in that comfort
zone, they're not going to pass and they don't see the guy coming
from the weak side. And Matt was able to time it just right and
steal it."

After Sean Rooks made one of two free throws at the other end,
Malone's 15-footer helped seal it with 17 seconds left.

Melvin Ely opened the scoring with a short hook shot, and the
Clippers didn't lead again until there were 10.5 seconds left in
the third quarter.

Maggette drove on Greg Ostertag and tried a slam-dunk, bouncing
the ball off the rim. But the Utah center was called for a foul and
Maggette sank both free throws for a 66-65 lead, completing the
Clippers' comeback from a 15-point deficit early in the second

"It didn't happen in a blast. I mean, it happened kind of
gradually," Stockton said. "They did a nice job of making shot
after shot, getting a good look at the basket every time, as we
weren't. We were turning the ball over and were a little

Game notes
Jackson turned 38 on Tuesday -- but he's still only the
third-oldest player on the Jazz behind Stockton, 41, and Malone,
who turns 40 in July. "It's strange. But at the same time, it says
a lot about guys who take care of themselves," Jackson said. "I
dreamt, quite honestly, of making an impact and hanging around. But
it never crossed my mind that I'd still be playing 16 years later
and counting. It's an incredible blessing, and I'm truly grateful
for it.'' Jackson was scoreless with five assists. ... The Clippers
were 4-14 during Brand's absence. "I've tried for the last week
and a half to get back, but I knew I was coming back because I felt
good,'' Brand said. "It's not really that big of a deal, but I
definitely owe it to the fans that come out and support us. I mean,
I might look good in my suits, but they're not coming to the game
for that. The organization pays you big dollars, so if you're not
injured, you should play. And I'm not injured."