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Jazz Blast Trail Blazers

The Utah Jazz took advantage of Portland's mistakes and wrested the NBA's best record away from the Trail Blazers.

Karl Malone had 21 points and nine rebounds as the Jazz bounced back from last week's mistake-filled loss to the Blazers with a 91-77 victory.

"The last time we played here, we gave it to them down the stretch," Malone said. "But tonight, our bench kept us alive all the way, and we played like the Western Conference champions."

Bryon Russell added 19 points and eight rebounds as the Jazz improved to 16-4 and handed the Blazers (15-4) their first home loss in 10 games this season. Portland had won eight in a row and five of six against Utah.

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  • Damon Stoudamire had his best shooting game of the season, scoring 20 points and dishing out eight assists. Isaiah Rider added 18 points.

    The Blazers had beaten the Jazz five of the last six times, including a 102-100 double-overtime victory at the Rose Garden on March 2. In that game, Utah committed two costly turnovers late in the second extra period that allowed Portland to escape with the win.

    This time the Blazers, playing on two days' rest, were out of sync, turning the ball over 21 times. Utah, in the middle game of three straight, played with more energy, getting 18 second-chance points on 16 offensive rebounds.

    "We made a concerted effort to rebound the ball, and tonight we did what we couldn't do last time compete with them on the boards," Russell said.

    Jeff Hornacek had all 12 of his points in the second half, and Russell scored 15 of his 19 in the final two periods as the Jazz pulled away.

    Utah led 38-33 at the half, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Russell and Hornacek completed a 10-0 run to put the Jazz up 57-45 with 5:51 left in the third. A steal and dunk by Russell ended the quarter at 73-58.

    "When the score was 47-5, in the third quarter, we just had too many turnovers," said Portland's Brian Grant. "The Jazz started hitting some tough shots. It was very tough to maneuver and get to the offensive boards all night. They block out the way you're supposed to."

    The Jazz widened its lead early in the fourth, even with Malone and John Stockton on the bench. A putback by Thurl Bailey and two free throws by Greg Foster made it 79-61.

    Rider then botched a fast-break opportunity by throwing a pass of the foot of an open Rasheed Wallace, and Bailey wound up with a dunk at the other end for an 81-61 lead.

    Portland got within 86-77 on a steal and dunk by Stacey Augmon with 1:56 to go, but Malone grabbed his own miss and hit a short jumper to make it 88-77 with 1:20 left.

    Blazers reserve forward Jermaine O'Neal sustained a mild concussion on the play when he caught an elbow in the head from Malone. Malone drove to the basket, and his left elbow inadvertently hit O'Neal. O'Neal lay underneath the basket for about six minutes before he walked off with assistance.

    "I just remember getting hit in the head. That's all I really remember," O'Neal said. Asked whether he thought the hit was intentional, O'Neal said, "It's just basketball."

    Portland led by as many as five in the first quarter, but the Jazz started beating the Blazers on the offensive boards in the second period.

    Utah started the quarter with a 7-1 run as Portland missed seven of its first eight shots and kept turning the ball over.

    The Blazers pulled to 32-31 on a turnaround jumper by Wallace, but two open jumpers by Malone and an easy layup by Shandon Anderson put the Jazz up 38-33 at the half.

    Arvydas Sabonis had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers.

    Notes: Blazers reserve guard John Crotty passed out cigars to teammates before the game celebrating the birth of his second child, a girl named Connor, on Thursday night. Doctors induced labor in Kara Crotty on the Blazers' day off. ... Crotty was placed on the injured list with a bruised left leg. Rookie guard Bonzi Wells was activated. ... Utah and Portland both have yet to give up 100 points in a regulation game this season. ... Sloan, who was ejected from Thursday night's game against Denver, didn't waste any time getting into it with the officials. Early in the first quarter, official Jess Kersey ordered him to "quit cursing." To which Sloan responded, "Go to hell!"

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