The secret is out: Foul Utah repeatedly, and opponents can keep the score close.
The Cleveland Cavaliers used the ploy in Tuesday night's 88-75 loss, and with some effectiveness. They fouled the Jazz 36 times, sending them to the free-throw line for 41 shots, and the Cavaliers were still in the game with seven minutes to play.
"Right away, you could see what their plan was: Grab and hold," said Jeff Hornacek, who scored 11 points and was 4-of-4 from the line. "It should have been a 30-point game."
Karl Malone scored 21 points, and Adam Keefe added a season-high 15 as the Jazz made 12 of 14 free throws in the final seven minutes to pull away from the Cavaliers and win their eighth straight home game.
Shawn Kemp led Cleveland, now 1-5 on the road, with 16 points before fouling out with 6:22 left. Wesley Person and Danny Ferry each scored 10. Kemp, Brevin Knight and Vitaly Potapenko all fouled out in the final six minutes.
The fouling strategy might have come from watching the Lakers beat the Jazz on Sunday, a game that featured 67 total fouls.
"We stayed focused, that's the most important thing," said Malone, who grabbed eight rebounds and held Kemp to 3-of-11 hooting. "It was a win, and I like to win. But it was physical, with a lot of holding and grabbing."
Utah used an 18-3 run spanning the end of the second and start of the third periods to take a 50-34 lead. Bryon Russell led the run with six points. The Jazz built the lead as high as 55-37 midway through the third quarter, but Cleveland closed the gap to 72-66. Utah then hit eight of 10 free throws to build its lead to 80-67 with 3:54 remaining. Cleveland would not come closer than 11 points.
Meanwhile, in the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter, the Cavs managed just two field goals. The Cavaliers shot 33 free throws, and the Jazz fouled 31 times and shot 41 free throws.
Utah coach Jerry Sloan returned to the bench after missing Friday's game against Dallas and Sunday's loss against the Lakers recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Cleveland nearly caught the Jazz with a 17-8 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, led by Kemp with seven points. But after a Utah turnover and with the Cavaliers trailing 72-66, Cleveland sent the Jazz to the free throw line on the next five possessions, and misfired on 3-pointers at the other end. The Cavs were 3-of-9 from the arc, while the Jazz were just 1-of-10.
"I was proud of the way we came back," said Cleveland Coach Mike Fratello, whose team has never won in the Delta Center (0-8). "I thought we lost it there at the end of the second quarter when we got outscored 14-3. That kind of put us in a hole. But, with seven minutes left, it's a six-point game. I was proud of our guys. They hung in there and battled."
The Jazz are holding opponents to 40 percent shooting. The Cavs averaged 52.4 percent in their three previous games...Kemp leads the league in free throws attempted with 11.3 per contest. Malone shoots 10 per game. The most Malone ever shot was 11.4 per game in 1988-89...The Cavs are the worst rebounding team in the NBA, grabbing 35 per game. But they allow opponents a league-low 36 per game.
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