John Stockton dazzled offensively, and the defense of Olden Polynice and Greg Ostertag helped the Utah Jazz beat the San Antonio Spurs at their own game.
Stockton scored 20 points and led the Jazz down the stretch as Utah beat San Antonio 91-85 on Monday night, handing the defending NBA champions their second loss in eight games.
When the Spurs cut their deficit to 84-81 after holding Utah scoreless for almost three minutes, Stockton drove the left side of the lane, slicing past three defenders for a layup with 1:33 to play.
Tim Duncan scored 32 points for San Antonio but, with the Spurs trailing 89-85, had his last shot blocked by Ostertag in the closing seconds.
"I thought they were going to look for a 3," Ostertag said. "If they wanted to go to Duncan in the lane, I wanted to get a body there. If he's going to the rack, I'm going to make him take a tough shot."
Utah matched the Spurs push for push, winning a physical showdown three nights after the Jazz were listless in a 105-92 loss at Sacramento.
"Different styles of game, I guess," said Utah guard Jeff Hornacek, who scored 10 points. "We were a little too tentative against teams like Sacramento, who seem to run and gun it."
The Jazz also outrebounded the Spurs 46-31, with Ostertag and Karl Malone each grabbing 11 boards. Malone scored 20 points, Bryon Russell had 19 off the bench and reserve point guard Howard Eisley added 13.
"The Jazz played a great game from beginning to end," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "They wanted it badly and it showed. They used a lot of energy and went to the boards hard. They were very aggressive."
Duncan hit a one-handed jumper in the lane to pull the Spurs within 86-83 with 50.6 seconds left.
But Stockton found Malone on the pick-and-roll that the perennial NBA All-Stars have perfected over their long careers together, and Malone swished a 20-footer to give Utah an 88-83 lead.
"We made some defensive errors in the last two or three minutes that we don't normally make," Popovich said.
Duncan banked a basket from eight feet but Stockton hit one of two foul shots as the Jazz outlasted the Spurs. San Antonio went to Duncan one last time, but Ostertag stuffed Duncan's running left-hander.
"We did a great job on David Robinson, Mario Elie and Jaren Jackson," Polynice said. "That was the key. We kept the guys at bay that we needed to. All except Tim Duncan, but he shoots enough to score 32 points every night."
The Spurs had held their first seven opponents to an NBA-low 37 percent shooting from the field and they led 32-25 after the Jazz shot 34 percent (9-of-26) in the first quarter.
With Malone and Polynice taking turns blanketing Duncan, the Jazz climbed back to tie it 44-44 on a shot by Russell with 2:39 left in the first half. The Spurs led 51-50 at halftime.
Robinson scored 11 points in the first half but the Jazz held him to a free throw late in the game after that. Also, Utah slowly found a shooting touch, hitting 45 percent (34-of-74) for the game.
"Normally, we're a very good team down the stretch," Robinson said. "A lot of it was the rebounds. We gave them a lot of looks and they were able to turn many of their offensive rebounds into 3-pointers."
Robinson grabbed 10 rebounds while Duncan had eight. Terry Porter scored 12 points for the Spurs.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed