The Utah Jazz scored the first 10 points of the third quarter and nursed the lead the rest of the way, claiming a 106-98 win over the Sacramento Kings Saturday night at Arco Arena.
The win, Utah's fifth in a row, improved the Jazz's record to 22-10 on the year and dropped Sacramento to 7-22. Utah's next outing is Tuesday in the Salt Palace against Cleveland.The Jazz's Blue Edwards totaled a season-high 20 points, while Karl Malone added 26 to lead the Jazz. John Stockton, rebounding from a four-point effort against Philadelphia on Friday, had a 19-point, 19-assist night.
Sacramento was directed by its veterans, as Wayman Tisdale scored 22 and Antoine Carr 20.
"Tonight I had a lot of opportunities and made the best of them," said Edwards.
Despite the win, the Jazz remained a game behind San Antonio in the Midwest Division, who beat Orlando 107-90 Saturday night.
The Jazz built their lead to 17 points in the fourth quarter, then weathered a run of poor ballhandling down the stretch. The loss was Sacramento's eighth in nine outings.
The Kings entered Saturday's game coming off a win that snapped a seven-game losing streak. For the last-place team in the Pacific Division, it has been a predictably uneventful year. The Kings lost seven straight to begin the season, then beat the Bullets, followed by six more losses.
Coach Dick Motta, determined to build his team through young talent, traded away veterans Danny Ainge and Rodney McCray in the off-season, as well as center Pervis Ellison. Consequently, the Kings ended up with three first-round draft picks, including Travis Mays, Lionell Simmons and Anthony Bonner.
Mays and Simmons are third and fourth on the team in scoring, at 15.7 and 14.9 points, respectively. Tisdale leads the team with a 22-point average.
Meanwhile, the Kings signed former Jazz guard Jim Les to a 10-day contract on Dec. 31.
The Jazz came into the contest on a four-game winning streak, having dispatched the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night in the Salt Palace.Utah won three of four games over the Kings last year. This was their first meeting of the season.
The Jazz built a 24-16 lead in the first half, but faced with an onslaught by the Kings' Carr, the lead dwindled to 26-24. However, Stockton's three-pointer gave the Jazz a 29-24 cushion at the end of the quarter.
Continuing their penchant for playing equal to the competition, the Jazz struggled with the Kings throughout the remainder of the half. Though they got the lead up to nine points twice, the Kings outscored the Jazz 7-2 to cut the lead to 49-48, led by Tisdale's nine-point quarter.
Rookie Mays landed a three-pointer with five seconds to go in the first half, cutting the Jazz lead to 54-53.
Stockton and Karl Malone led the Jazz in the first half with 13 points apiece.
The Jazz rushed ahead by 11 at the start of the third quarter. Malone and Edwards scored two baskets apiece and Stockton's shot from the left angle with 8:45 remaining in the period put the Jazz up 64-53.
The quick start helped the Jazz build their lead to 15 points at 73-57, when Jeff Malone sank a free throw on a technical foul. Although the Kings, led by Carr, were able to get within nine, the Jazz finished the third quarter leading 84-72.