The Jazz's problems with Phoenix center Andrew Lang began shortly after he entered the game late in the first quarter. The period ended without incident, but two minutes and 10 seconds into the second, Lang went inside and slammed home a shot.
Moments later, he went inside, drawing two fouls.On a night when Jazz center Mark Eaton was battling foul problems from the beginning, the Suns had Lang to bother him.
"Lang is a very good player," said Jazz guard John Stockton. "This team's loaded with great players. That's what's so tough about playing them."
Normally, Lang isn't a huge order. He sits placidly on the bench and watches as Suns' starter Mark West does his work. But in this game, West began having foul trouble early. With 3:49 to go in the half, he picked up his third personal foul.
Hoping to preserve West, Suns' Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons went to Lang. Soon he had decided he liked the fit. By halftime Lang had six points and four rebounds. For the game he totaled eight boards and a season-high 20 points (one short of his career high).
Lang's big night came as a result of several factors. First, Jazz center Eaton was severely hampered by foul problems and thus unable to go after blocks as effectively as normal. Second, Suns' guards Kevin Johnson and Jeff Hornacek were drawing the defense on drives, then passing underneath to Lang for easy inside shots.
A third-year player from Arkansas, Lang had little to say about his night. "Kevin (Johnson) was penetrating and really helped me," he said. "They were high percentage shots."
After his six-point first half, Lang really got rolling in the third quarter. He landed a jumper, then slammed home a shot, to pull the Suns ahead by four. His free throw at the end of the period put the Suns up 66-60.
In a nine-point fourth period, Lang scored six of the Suns' eight points in a three-minute span. When finished, the Suns' were leading 79-73 and never let the Jazz get closer.
"Andrew did a great job for us, not just scoring but setting the tone physically. This was certainly one of the better ball games in his career," said Johnson.
While Stockton and Johnson were impressed, the Mailman wasn't. "We didn't rotate on defense and help Mark (Eaton) and Mike (Brown) as much as we should," said Jazz forward Karl Malone. "He (Lang) had all dunks. When you dunk 'em, you got a hell of a chance of making 'em."