Although there were no discernible contusions, welts, lacerations or bumps on Golden State's Tim Hardaway, for him Wednesday night's game at the Salt Palace had all the earmarks of a mugging.
"No calls," complained Hardaway glumly. "No calls out there for nobody. You have to get out and show some blood to get a call."In their third meeting of the season, the Jazz and Golden State Warriors got together to play something that sometimes resembled a cross between roller derby and kick-boxing. By the time it was all over, the Jazz had survived Golden State's trapping defense and pulled away at the finish for a 118-103 win.
All factors considered, it was a fairly grueling night for both sides. The Warriors spent much of their energy running into Jazz center Mark Eaton and coming out worse for the wear. Eaton blocked seven shots and affected numerous others.
Two of the Warriors' starters - forward Tyrone Hill and Hardaway - fouled out. Although the Jazz avoided any foul-outs -Eaton and John Stockton had five apiece - they didn't get away without losing something. Before the game even began, they had their first injury. Guard Jeff Malone, poised to make his first start since injuring his back on Feb. 18, warmed up, then went back and put on his street clothes. His aching back had begun to tighten, so he was unable to play.
"It's getting frustrating," said Malone. "I don't know . . ."
Two minutes into the third quarter, the Jazz took another hit when forward Blue Edwards - who had pumped in 14 points and made seven of eight shots - went down with a badly twisted left ankle. He not only left the game, but also the arena. Edwards was sent to a Salt Lake area hospital for X-rays.
He is expected to be out for three weeks and will miss the Jazz's seven-game road trip beginning Friday in Detroit.
As the game progressed, guard John Stockton, who took considerable abuse from Hardaway's defense, momentarily hurt his left hand in the second half.
While the crowd and some players appeared to be affected by the amount of contact going on, the King of Contact himself, Karl Malone, was happily going about his business. Malone poured in 15 fourth-quarter points on his way to a 38-point, 15-rebound performance.
Physical? "Whatever," said the Mailman. "That's just part of the game. I don't worry about it it. I just go play."
Said Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan, "It's always going to be a physical game. It always has been since I can remember."
From the early minutes, the Jazz had a hand on the situation, building a 17-8 lead. While the Warriors struggled with their shooting - something that would plague them all night - the Jazz made 12 of their 21 first-quarter attempts. By the midway point, the Jazz had extended their lead to seven points, shooting 62 percent.
With Hardaway busying himself trying to drive around or over Eaton, and guard Stockton, the other two-thirds of the Warriors' promised scoring attack had good results. Chris Mullin led the way with 28 points, while Mitch Richmond added 24. Hardaway made only five of 20 shots, taking the brunt of most of Eaton's seven blocks. Hardaway singled out Eaton as one who got away with fouling.
"I think I had five fouls (called)," Eaton said pointedly. "What does he want? . . . How tall is he, anyway?"
When the Warriors were able to get shots off, they weren't accurate. Golden State made just 39 percent of its attempts. "Everything I shot was in-and-out," said Hardaway.
Although the Warriors trailed by just a point with 6:55 to go, Eaton wasn't finished tormenting people. Having spent half the game on the bench with foul problems of his own, he returned early in the fourth quarter to lead the charge along with Malone. Eaton hit two close-up shots at around the fiveminute mark, moving the Jazz ahead 98-93. Shortly after, Hardaway, frustrated with the situation, shoved Stockton to the floor, picking up his sixth foul.
After struggling with the Warriors' trapping defense early in the quarter, the Jazz finally began to spread things out and get easy baskets. In a 31/2 minute stretch, the Jazz outscored the Warriors 14-4.
The Jazz lead climbed to 16 points inside the last minute.
The win, Utah's 11th straight at home over Golden State, sent the Jazz on their seven-game road trip.
The trip is a fearsome one when everyone's healthy, but suddenly the Jazz have two starters - Jeff Malone and Edwards - in doubt.
"We gotta forget tonight now," said the Mailman, "because we have a heck of a trip coming up."
GAME NOTES: Karl Malone's 38 points was two short of his season high . . . He has recorded 39 double-doubles this year . . . Eaton's 702 games played for the Jazz is second on the all-time list . . . Utah has won all three meetings with the Warriors this year.