May 27, 1996 in Sports

Utah Comes Up Short Stockton’s Miss Gives Seattle Win

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The ones that got away no longer do.

Game 3 against Sacramento. Game 2 - heck, throw in 3 and 4, too - against Houston.

And now this - Game 4 against the Utah Jazz, in which the Seattle SuperSonics not only provided NBC with the tingle to hold a television audience but also inched to within a victory of their first trip to the NBA Finals since 1979.

When John Stockton’s long 3-point shot banged off the front rim at the buzzer, the Sonics briefly celebrated an 88-86 victory and a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.

But they looked no farther ahead than Tuesday, when the series resumes in Seattle.

“We’re not a game away from anything,” said coach George Karl, “except another game with Utah.”

But that could be the last riff from the Jazz, who are 1-6 away from the Delta Center in these playoffs and now need to run the table to advance.

“Win three?” said Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek. “We have to win one first.”

That may require an assist from the Sonics, who contributed to Utah’s lone win in Game 3 by wigging out over the officiating and allowing the Jazz’s veteran resolve to take hold at closing time.

A repeat seemed in the works when Utah ran off the first eight points of the fourth quarter, turning a game that was teetering toward another ratings-killing blowout into a stress factory. But then the Sonics reverted to their form of the Sacramento and Houston series, rather than their form of May 1994 and ‘95.

They got their first field goal of the fourth quarter from Detlef Schrempf with just 5:43 to play, a key 3-pointer from Sam Perkins a couple minutes later and finally two clutch hoops - a jumper and a layup - in the final 2 minutes from Gary Payton for an 87-83 lead.

“On the first, Hersey (Hawkins) penetrated and sucked up everybody - you know John likes to help,” said Payton, who was again shadowed by Stockton. “On the other, I knew I had to be aggressive on the pick-and-roll, so I went strong to the basket and they left me open - Karl and them weren’t helping.”

And then?

“And then we had to play defense,” said Perkins. “We have to keep reminding ourselves that first and foremost, we’re a defensive team.”

First, however, the Sonics played illegal defense and Hornacek made the free throw. Then Antoine Carr got loose for a layup to cut the gap to a point - and when Hawkins missed for the Sonics, Utah had its chance.

Two, in fact. But Hornacek hurried a pass to Malone that was deflected to Schrempf, who made a free throw with 12.2 seconds left. And on the deciding possession, the Sonics collapsed on Malone and forced Stockton to try the sweet-but-short 24-footer.

“I felt the ball was coming back to me, I got my feet underneath me,” he said. “It was straight, no question about it. Just a little short.

“All through the season and the playoffs, we’ve had some battles with these guys and they’ve won every close game. They deserve credit for that.”

Karl deflected some of that credit back.

“I have a love/hate relationship for (Utah),” Karl said. “They had a lot of opportunities to cave in for us and they not only didn’t cave in, they came back and scared us to death.”

It might have been death, period, but the Jazz raised the bar on their comeback by making just 11 of 22 from the foul line - where, as it turned out, the game was won and lost. Seattle had 10 fewer field goals than Utah, but was a sizzling 31 of 36 on foul shots.

That marksmanship allowed the Sonics to rally from a nine-point deficit to a 49-44 halftime lead - that and a wake-up call on the boards. Utah had jumped on top with the help of seven offensive rebounds in the first quarter. In the second period, the Jazz had just three boards, total.

But the further foul adventures of Shawn Kemp kept Seattle’s best rebounder on the bench for much of the second half. The upside was more minutes for Perkins, who led all scorers with 20 points and kept Seattle’s subs from being eclipsed by Bryon Russell (down from 24 points Friday to 10 this day) and little-used Greg Foster (also with 10).

As for the prime-time players, Payton had 19 points and Kemp 18 for Seattle, while Malone had 25 points and Hornacek 19. But Stockton again struggled with his shot - making just 3 of 9. But he had a series-high eight assists, three of Utah’s 12 steals and a startling block of a Nate McMillan shot, and overall was more of a factor than he was in the first three games. “This is the farthest I’ve been and the closest I’ve been,” said Payton, “but we still have to take care of business back home.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SuperSonics 88, Jazz 86 FG FT Reb SEATTLE Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts Schrempf 38 3-6 5-7 0-5 2 4 11 Kemp 23 6-8 6-6 2-8 2 6 18 Johnson 16 0-1 2-2 2-4 1 2 2 Hawkins 34 2-6 7-7 1-5 5 2 12 Payton 46 7-17 4-5 0-4 6 3 19 Perkins 33 5-8 7-9 1-6 1 1 20 Brickowski 17 2-3 0-0 0-1 0 2 4 McMillan 19 1-2 0-0 1-3 0 3 2 Askew 14 0-2 0-0 0-1 0 3 0 Totals 240 26-53 31-36 7-37 17 26 88 Percentages: FG .491, FT .861. 3-Point Goals: 5-15, .333 (Perkins 3-5, Hawkins 1-2, Payton 1-3, Brickowski 0-1, Schrempf 0-2, Askew 0-2). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 4 (Kemp 2, Johnson, Brickowski). Turnovers: 22 (Schrempf 6, Payton 3, Askew 3, Kemp 2, Hawkins 2, Brickowski 2, McMillan 2, Johnson, Perkins). Steals: 7 (Schrempf 2, Kemp, Hawkins, Brickowski, McMillan, Askew). Technical fouls: Schrempf, 4:49, 4th; illegal defense, 3:12, 3rd; illegal defense, 1:09, 4th. Illegal defense: 1. FG FT Reb UTAH Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts Morris 15 0-4 0-0 3-3 1 1 0 Malone 45 11-21 3-8 4-12 8 5 25 Spencer 13 2-5 0-1 1-2 0 3 4 Hornacek 43 7-12 4-5 0-3 4 2 19 Stockton 36 3-9 0-0 1-2 8 3 7 Eisley 12 1-3 0-0 0-0 4 1 2 Carr 19 5-7 0-0 1-3 1 4 10 Russell 38 3-8 2-4 2-6 0 3 9 Foster 19 4-6 2-4 1-1 1 4 10 Totals 240 36-75 11-22 13-32 27 26 86 Percentages: FG .480, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 3-14, .214 (Hornacek 1-3, Stockton 1-4, Russell 1-4, Eisley 0-1, Morris 0-2). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 4 (Malone, Stockton, Eisley, Russell). Turnovers: 13 (Stockton 4, Malone 3, Hornacek 2, Morris, Carr, Russell, Foster). Steals: 12 (Stockton 3, Malone 2, Hornacek 2, Carr 2, Russell 2, Spencer). Technical fouls: Illegal defense, :33.2, 1st; illegal defense, 8:23, 2nd; illegal defense, 10:50, 3rd. Illegal defense: 1. Seattle 17 32 24 15 - 88 Utah 21 23 21 21 - 86 A-19,911 (19,911). T-2:30.

This sidebar appeared with the story: SuperSonics 88, Jazz 86 FG FT Reb SEATTLE Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts Schrempf 38 3-6 5-7 0-5 2 4 11 Kemp 23 6-8 6-6 2-8 2 6 18 Johnson 16 0-1 2-2 2-4 1 2 2 Hawkins 34 2-6 7-7 1-5 5 2 12 Payton 46 7-17 4-5 0-4 6 3 19 Perkins 33 5-8 7-9 1-6 1 1 20 Brickowski 17 2-3 0-0 0-1 0 2 4 McMillan 19 1-2 0-0 1-3 0 3 2 Askew 14 0-2 0-0 0-1 0 3 0 Totals 240 26-53 31-36 7-37 17 26 88 Percentages: FG .491, FT .861. 3-Point Goals: 5-15, .333 (Perkins 3-5, Hawkins 1-2, Payton 1-3, Brickowski 0-1, Schrempf 0-2, Askew 0-2). Team Rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 4 (Kemp 2, Johnson, Brickowski). Turnovers: 22 (Schrempf 6, Payton 3, Askew 3, Kemp 2, Hawkins 2, Brickowski 2, McMillan 2, Johnson, Perkins). Steals: 7 (Schrempf 2, Kemp, Hawkins, Brickowski, McMillan, Askew). Technical fouls: Schrempf, 4:49, 4th; illegal defense, 3:12, 3rd; illegal defense, 1:09, 4th. Illegal defense: 1. FG FT Reb UTAH Min M-A M-A O-T A PF Pts Morris 15 0-4 0-0 3-3 1 1 0 Malone 45 11-21 3-8 4-12 8 5 25 Spencer 13 2-5 0-1 1-2 0 3 4 Hornacek 43 7-12 4-5 0-3 4 2 19 Stockton 36 3-9 0-0 1-2 8 3 7 Eisley 12 1-3 0-0 0-0 4 1 2 Carr 19 5-7 0-0 1-3 1 4 10 Russell 38 3-8 2-4 2-6 0 3 9 Foster 19 4-6 2-4 1-1 1 4 10 Totals 240 36-75 11-22 13-32 27 26 86 Percentages: FG .480, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 3-14, .214 (Hornacek 1-3, Stockton 1-4, Russell 1-4, Eisley 0-1, Morris 0-2). Team Rebounds: 7. Blocked shots: 4 (Malone, Stockton, Eisley, Russell). Turnovers: 13 (Stockton 4, Malone 3, Hornacek 2, Morris, Carr, Russell, Foster). Steals: 12 (Stockton 3, Malone 2, Hornacek 2, Carr 2, Russell 2, Spencer). Technical fouls: Illegal defense, :33.2, 1st; illegal defense, 8:23, 2nd; illegal defense, 10:50, 3rd. Illegal defense: 1. Seattle 17 32 24 15 - 88 Utah 21 23 21 21 - 86 A-19,911 (19,911). T-2:30.


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