SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- There was no danger of the Utah Jazz
looking ahead to Sunday's game against Karl Malone and the Los
Angeles Lakers. They knew beforehand that they won't be seeing
"The Mailman" until late January.
Shortly after learning that Malone would be suspended for his
first game against the team he spent 18 seasons with, the Jazz
focused completely on the Los Angeles Clippers and rolled to an
86-67 win Friday night.
It was the lowest point total of the season for the Clippers,
who got Elton Brand back in the lineup but struggled once again in
"I thought our team defense was the key tonight," said Matt
Harpring, who led the Jazz with 20 points. "Our guys in the post
really helped out. Our team defense frustrates a lot of teams that
play against us."
Utah improved to 10-1 at home and 11-7 on the season and
continued to dominate the Clippers, who have won just once in Salt
Lake City since the Delta Center opened in 1991.
The Clippers, whose previous season-low was 78 on Nov. 19 at
Indiana, shot 35 percent from the field. Quentin Richardson was
"I don't think (the Jazz) are a better team than us, but we
didn't play well," said Corey Maggette, who led the Clippers with
15 points. "They had good defense, especially help defense."
Utah heads to Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Sunday, but
Malone will not be in the building. The NBA announced Friday that
Malone had been suspended one game without pay for elbowing Dallas
guard Steve Nash in the head on Thursday.
"Yes, I'm disappointed there will be no Karl Malone," Harpring
said. "In the summer, I was looking forward to playing them
because I wanted to play against Karl. But we obviously have our
hands full even without him, and we'll get a chance to play him
three more times."
Andrei Kirilenko, who scored 10, was looking forward to going up
"I want to see him," Kirilenko said. "He's a great player,
one of the best all time. I want that matchup. I want to be able to
say one day that I played against Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant
and Karl Malone."
Utah's recovered after an overtime loss Wednesday in Houston.
The Clippers activated Brand from the injured list after he
missed 13 games with a hairline stress fracture in his right foot.
Brand entered the game at the start of the second quarter, scored
nine points in the first half and finished with 13.
Bobby Simmons' basket with 4:50 left in the second quarter
pulled the Clippers to 33-29. The Jazz then reeled off a 14-6 run
to close out the half and open a 47-35 lead. Utah extended its lead
to 67-49 after three quarters.
Maggette signed an offer sheet from Utah in the offseason,
but the Clippers matched it and kept the restricted free agent. ...
Stevenson scored eight points in the third quarter. ... The Jazz
won three of four against the Clippers last season. ... Utah had
not held an opponent below 76 points until this game.