Jazz Take 2-0 Lead on Mavs

Wednesday, April 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Old guys 2, Youngsters 0.

Karl Malone scored 34 points and Bryon Russell had 24 as the Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks 109-98 in another emotional contest on Tuesday night, building a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five first-round playoff series.

The veteran Jazz outhustled, outmuscled and outplayed the Mavericks for three quarters, then held on in the fourth.

``It's a win,'' Malone said. ``You can talk about the series all you want but we won the ball game. We ran off a nice lead but they cut it down to three, and then they got a good look at a three. We'll take 2-0 any day.''

The Mavericks trailed by 20 points late in the third quarter but outscored the Jazz 15-6 over the first six minutes of the final period. Dallas pulled within 90-87 when Dirk Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by Russell.

He made the ensuing free throw, and the Jazz seemed to be in trouble. But Malone and John Stockton, who scored 17 points in 42 minutes, had all of Utah's points in a 6-0 run that steadied the ship.

``They're not going to give up in a playoff game,'' said Donyell Marshall. ``In a game this important, we have to keep the pressure on them. We can't let up.''

The series goes to Reunion Arena for Game 3 on Saturday. Utah is looking for its first sweep since beating the Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the 1998 Western Conference finals.

Michael Finley led the Mavericks with 32 points while Steve Nash scored 20 and Juwan Howard had 17 but Dallas, which made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, is still looking for its first postseason victory since 1988.

The Delta Center was rocking and the intensity on the court was turned up for Game 2, which came after Dallas coach Don Nelson claimed the Jazz manipulate referees and the Mavericks brashly predicted they could win.

After five individual technical fouls were called in Game 1, there were six in the first half alone Tuesday. And five minutes into the second half, Utah's Olden Polynice was ejected after a flagrant foul on Shawn Bradley.

There was spitting, with Vernon Maxwell of the Mavericks hacking onto the floor. And there was blood, as Russell was treated for a cut below his left eye after he drew a charge on Calvin Booth's third-quarter dunk attempt.

Maxwell was ejected late in the third quarter after his second technical. The teams combined for 70 personal fouls, seven individual technicals, one flagrant foul and two ejections.

``It's a fine line you walk out there and emotions do run high,'' Malone said. ``Hopefully, you get smart fouls because, I'll be honest with you, we were running out of guys. I don't see why it will be any different when we go down there.''

There also were words exchanged between Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Mavericks, and Jazz coach Jerry Sloan as the teams went to a timeout with 2:54 remaining.

Ultimately, however, it was decided by Malone's 10 fourth-quarter points and Stockton's deft leadership with the outcome in the balance.

The Mailman outperformed Howard down the stretch as the Jazz extended their 90-87 lead to 96-87 with 4:02 to play. Malone hit two free throws and Stockton found Danny Manning cutting for a layup and a 100-89 lead with 2:21 to go.

Utah led 53-41 at halftime and extended the lead to 83-63 with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter after Russell, who lost his starting to an ankle injury early in the season, connected from 3-point range on consecutive possessions.

``Bryon stepped up huge for us,'' Malone said. ``He looked like the so-called old Bryon, before the ankle injury. He was doing everything. He was rebounding. He shot the ball well. He was shooting with confidence and it lifted his whole plate.''

The Mavericks answered by scoring the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to 84-78.

Notes: Nelson said the NBA rescinded the fine for his ejection in Saturday's series opener. ... John Starks missed Tuesday's game after being hospitalized for what the Jazz called ``a minor medical procedure'' stemming from recent groin pain, unrelated to abdominal pains that put him in the hospital Sunday. ... Nowitzki was booed all night. He had said Utah was ``a bad city'' in explaining why the Mavericks went home between games.