Life without Karl Malone proved very difficult for the Jazz Friday night in Reunion Arena, but they still almost rallied for an unlikely win over the Dallas Mavericks. At the end, they had a chance to force overtime when John Stockton intentionally missed a free throw - Mark Eaton tipped the ball, Darrell Griffith recovered and missed a baseline shot and Eaton missed another tip as the horn sounded in Dallas' 91-89.
Down by 17 points late in the first half, the Jazz tied the game in the last 12 seconds on Mike Brown's dunk. Brown fouled Sam Perkins on the in-bounds play and Perkins made the first free throw and missed the second, but Roy Tarpley rebounded. Tarpley was fouled and made both shots for a 91-88 lead. The Mavs fouled Stockton in backcourt with four seconds left; he made the first, to set up the final play.Making his first appearance against the Jazz this season following his return from drug rehabilitation, Tarpley had 33 points and 17 rebounds. By winning, the Mavs kept their playoff hopes alive - at least temporarily. They'll make the playoffs if they beat Denver and Portland loses to Sacramento Sunday.
Malone, who missed the second game of his four-year career because of a slightly sprained ankle, is also doubtful for tonight's home game with Golden State, closing out the regular season. He's fully expected to be healthy for the first playoff game, Thursday or Friday.
Stockton led the Jazz (50-31) with 19 points, 20 assists and eight steals. He's 20 assists short of his own NBA season record, entering the final game. Starting his first game since the season opener, Thurl Bailey had 17 points, while Griffith had 16 points and Brown added 15 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.
While struggling to score, the Jazz still managed a 27-27 tie with the Mavs early in the second quarter before they went completely cold and Tarpley broke loose. Adrian Dantley, meanwhile, managed only three points for the game.
Tarpley scored 17 of his 21 first-half points in the second period, with 13 of those coming during the Mavs' 21-4 run. The Jazz needed a free throw and 3-point shot from Bobby Hansen to stay as close as 48-35 at halftime.
Griffith officially became the Jazz's all-time leader in games played (607), moving ahead of Rickey Green when he reported late in the first quarter.
Starting with another Hansen 3-pointer, the Jazz scored seven straight to cut the lead to 54-50 midway through the third quarter and had the ball, but lost two turnovers that led to a Tarpley dunk and a Herb Williams hook.
The Mavs took a 66-58 lead into the final quarter. The Jazz made a late run when Griffith hit a 3-pointer - his career 400th, and only his second since March 15. Later, Stockton's 3-pointer brought the Jazz within 85-82, and they took advantage of the Mavs' free-throw troubles to tie the game.