By now, the fears are starting to be realized. That newly merged Salt Lake City firm of Malone & Malone is scaring people half to death. Someone should phone The Wall Street Journal: Malone & Malone Planning Hostile Takeover.
Despite 35 points and 13 rebounds from Karl Malone, his performance was overshadowed by Jeff Malone's 43-point-night as the Jazz swallowed the Golden State Warriors 135-117 Tuesday in the Salt Palace.Certainly, the Jazz have discovered a good way to do business.
Karl, who hasn't had many nights in his career in which he scored 35 points and wasn't the star of the show, seemed to be enjoying himself. "You had to know he (Jeff Malone) was gonna bust out. You knew any day he was gonna bust out," said Karl gleefully. "That's the best pure shooting I've ever seen in a person since I came in the league. He was red hot."
So are the Jazz. Since beginning the year with a 2-5 record, the Jazz have won 11 of the last 13 games, including five in a row, to stay only percentage points behind the San Antonio Spurs at the top of the Midwest Division.
Much of the reason for the Jazz's sudden climb has been the rising confidence of Jeff Malone. He began the year slowly, his shooting hovering in the low 40s. But the last two weeks he's begun to warm up. Last week, he scored a then-season high 28 points against the Bullets. That was followed by 27 points against the Pistons. He added a fairly quiet 13 against the Lakers on Friday but came back with 20 against the Clippers Sunday.
However, that was only the warm-up. Tuesday night he was the Jeff Malone the Jazz had been dreaming of when they acquired him in a three-way trade with Washington and Sacramento last summer.
Despite being hard to impress, the Jazz coaches are even shaking their heads at the way Malone has been playing. "We're not surprised at all; we knew he was good," began Jazz assistant Phil Johnson. "But what kinda surprises us is his overall abiltity, his defense, his court awareness, his ball-handling ability . . . he really gives us a dimension that's . . . that's good."
Malone's white-hot run of scoring even had his own bench gasping. In the second half he made 12 of 13 shots. "It was just one of those nights," said Malone. "Before a game I can go 13-for-13, but I just felt great on every shot I took."
Although the Jazz finished the contest with the subs in, the start was anything but promising. In the first minutes they made just one of six field goal attempts. Before the first period ended, they had fallen behind 27-15 as the Warriors' Tim Hardaway controlled matters en route to a 28-point scoring night. He had 10 points at the end of the first quarter and 25 at the half.
As Hardaway's point totals rose, so did Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan's blood pressure. He drew a technical midway through the first period, then got himself ejected after drawing another with 6:57 remaining in the half. "I don't know much about what happened," he said after the game.
Sloan left with the Jazz trailing 45-35, turning the job over to Johnson. Johnson, who was a head coach for eight years (and named NBA Coach of the Year), wasn't exactly quaking with fear. "I was glad to see that (expletive) sweat a little bit," Sloan joked.
The ejection of Sloan changed the tone of the game completely. Karl Malone began making Warriors' center Alton Lister miserable as he went angrily inside. He landed a six-foot hook, three of four free throws and added a layup that cut the Warrior lead to five. John Stockton's stunning assist to Malone for a layup - drawing a foul as well - put the Jazz ahead 55-52. They never trailed again.
Karl scored 18 points in the second period.
"I don't know if the coach being ejected had anything to do with it, but they sure controlled the last three quarters," said the Warriors' Mitch Richmond.
The fourth period was all Jeff Malone's (16 points, 7-for-7 from the field) as he put together two separate runs in which he scored eight straight points. Utah built its lead from 64-56 at half to 130-108 in the final period.
Said Richmond, "Jeff was unconscious."
Almost lost in the excitement over Jeff Malone's shooting was Thurl Bailey's 17-point night, in which he made seven straight shots before finally suffering his only miss of the game. Guard Delaney Rudd came off the bench to score 10 points in only 12 minutes, connecting on five of seven attempts.
Afterward, the Warriors could only acknowledge what they and everyone else in the league worried about over the summer: what the addition of Jeff Malone would do for the Jazz. The answer is obvious.
"My compliments to the franchise for getting Jeff Malone," said Warriors' Coach Don Nelson. "He works in beautifully with the other pieces."
Game Notes: Jeff Malone scored 30 of his 43 points in the second half . . . It was his highest-scoring game since he got 43 last March at Boston . . . His career high is 48 against New Jersey in 1987 . . . Jeff Malone missed practice Wednesday morning due to what team officials said was "personal time off." . . . Only one of the last 13 opponents have shot 50 percent against the Jazz. . . . Utah has won 10 straight regular-season home games against the Warriors.