Not only did the Jazz get a big lift Tuesday night with a win over the Dallas Mavericks on the road, they got one on the return trip to Salt Lake City Wednesday morning when it was announced that John Stockton and Mark Eaton had been named to the NBA Western Conference All-Star team.
Since Karl Malone earlier had been named a starter, the Jazz will be represented by three players, more than any other team.Also named by the coaches as All-Star reserves were Tom Chambers of Phoenix, Clyde Drexler and Kevin Duckwork of Portland, Chris Mullin of Golden State and James Worthy of the world champion Los Angeles Lakers.
The starters are Malone and Denver's Alex English at forwards; Akeem Olajuwon of Houston at center; and Dale Ellis of Seattle and Magic Johnson of the Lakers at guards.
"This is really exciting, we went out to the airport to meet them," said Dave Allred, Jazz vice president for public relations. "I think it's really a credit to Mark, and of course, you can't leave Stockton off."
Eaton doesn't have flashy statistics - 6.3 points and 10.4 rebounds a game, but his selection shows how much the coaches value his defensive domination in the middle, Allred said. Largely because of Eaton, the Jazz are playing the best defense statistically in the NBA in 10 years. Eaton is just behind Manute Bol of Golden State in blocked shots with 4.24.
Stockton, who had a career-high 30 points Tuesday night, is ahead of his record pace for assists in a season through the halfway point. After 42 games he has 584, or 13.9 per game. Last season after 42 games he had 474 or 11.3 per game. He had a strong second half last season to finish with a 13.8 assists per game average. Stockton also is second in the league in steals, with his 2.95 per game average trailing only the 3.29 average of Chicago's Michael Jordan.
Malone is second in the league in scoring at 30.1 points per game and fourth in rebounding at 11.8.
"It's nice to see this because these three are the ones among the league leaders," Allred said.
Only once before have the Jazz had more than one player make the NBA All-Star team. That was in 1984, the year they won the Midwest Division title, when Adrian Dantley and Rickey Green made it.
The All-Star game will be played Feb. 12 in Houston.