Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/27

Game 1: Friday, December 27th
Trail Blazers103
Game 2: Wednesday, January 29th
Trail Blazers71Final
Game 3: Wednesday, March 26th
Trail Blazers85Final
Game 4: Thursday, April 3rd
Trail Blazers88

Jazz 93


Trail Blazers 88

(46-28, 25-13 home)

    Coverage: FSRM

    7:00 PM ET, April 3, 2003

    Moda Center, Portland, OR

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 23 25 19 2693
    POR 16 20 28 2488

    Top Performers

    Utah: J. Stockton 15 Pts, 3 Reb, 10 Ast, 4 Stl

    Portland: R. Wallace 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

    Turmoil takes toll on Blazers in loss to Jazz

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The latest scandal for the NBA's kings of controversy might prove to be more than the Portland Trail Blazers can handle.



    It certainly didn't help them Thursday night, when Karl Malone had 21 points and nine assists, and John Stockton had 15 points and 10 assists as Utah beat the Blazers 93-88.

    Portland's players have had three drug possession cases, a domestic assault charge and several player suspensions for insubordination, spitting on and fighting with opponents, and threatening a referee after a game -- just this season.

    Now, the Blazers have more turmoil after Zach Randolph punched Ruben Patterson in the face at practice Wednesday. So, it shouldn't have been a surprise when Portland came out flat and uninspired and looked every bit the part of a team distracted by events not related to basketball.

    Fighting for playoff positioning with Minnesota and the Jazz, Portland -- which this week alone has dealt with the resolution of Rasheed Wallace's marijuana case, Qyntel Woods' new marijuana case and the fight -- played an awful first half. They scored just 36 points in the first 24 minutes and trailed by 12 at the break.

    ``We had a lot of things going on in the last 24 hours,'' guard Jeff McInnis said. ``But we're professionals, we had to come out and play.''

    They did rally in the second half, but lost their composure with the officials down the stretch, still another bugaboo that has dogged the team for years.

    ``We couldn't get anything started,'' coach Maurice Cheeks said. ``I'm sure that (the Randolph punch) had something to do with it.

    ``This is not easy. It's not easy for me and it's certainly not easy for the guys in the locker room. I think the first half you obviously saw the effects of it.''

    Before the game, Portland suspended Randolph, a second-year forward, for two games and fined him $100,000 for the punch.

    Patterson warmed up wearing goggles to protect a cut and swelling under his left eye, but played without them. Patterson's eye was almost swollen shut, and he was 0-for-1 from the floor with an assist, two fouls and two turnovers in 10 minutes.

    He refused to speak to reporters after the game, keeping his back to members of the media while dressing and walking away without answering any questions. When asked if he would give a statement, he shook his head and said, ``Nah.''

    The fight began with an argument between rookie Woods and Patterson, with Randolph stepping in later. Randolph also will miss Friday's game at Golden State, and forfeit about $25,000 in salary.

    Matt Harpring added 17 points, including a 3-pointer with 17.1 seconds left that sealed the victory for the Jazz, who have won seven of eight and are within two games of the Blazers and Minnesota for the fourth playoff spot in the Western Conference.

    ``We closed some ground on these guys, now we have the tiebreaker and that is something to think about,'' Malone said. ``We have six or seven games left and they are all big.''

    The Jazz won the season series against Portland 3-1. They also won the season series with Minnesota.

    Rasheed Wallace led the Blazers with 23 points. Bonzi Wells had 13 points before picking up two technical fouls and an ejection in the final 2:54. Referee Ron Olesiak issued the first technical with 2:54 to go, and Steve Javie ejected Wells with a second T with 17.1 seconds left, just after Harpring's 3.

    Utah led by as many as 15 points in the second half before the Blazers stormed back with runs of 11-0 and 6-0 in the third quarter, and a 10-2 run to take the lead at the start of the fourth.

    But Portland's focus waned down the stretch, as players spent more time arguing non-calls on the offensive end than guarding at the defensive end, leading to an 11-4 Jazz run to end the game.

    Utah took control in the first half with a 10-2 run near the end of the first quarter. The Jazz shot 62.5 percent in the period and dominated inside the entire first half with a 28-18 advantage in the paint.

    Game notes

    With Seattle's loss to Minnesota on Wednesday, Portland got a playoff spot for the 21st consecutive season, the longest active playoff streak in the NBA and second-longest in league history. Only the Syracuse/Philadelphia franchise had a longer run, 22 years from 1950-71. ... The Blazers activated forward/center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje and placed guard Charles Smith on the injured list. ... Utah is 24-1 when shooting over 50 percent.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 93 88
    FGM-FGA 39-73 (.534) 34-79 (.430)
    3PM-3PA 3-8 (.375) 7-18 (.389)
    FTM-FTA 12-14 (.857) 13-16 (.813)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-36 17-36
    Assists 31 22
    Turnovers 17 16
    Steals 11 9
    Blocks 3 2
    Fast Break Points 8 2
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 13 (2/0) 16 (3/0)

    Top Performers

    John Stockton Stockton
    Points: 15
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Rasheed Wallace Wallace
    Points: 23
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 1