Seattle 88, Utah 86

Game 71: Tuesday night at Seattle's Key Arena

Jazz 20 19 24 23 - 86

SuperSonics 26 15 26 21 - 88

1st quarter: Seattle erases a five-point Utah lead with a 16-4 run midway through the period. The burst includes a 41/2 minute stretch when the Jazz are held scoreless. Gary Payton tops the Sonics with eight points and three assists. Utah's Greg Foster and Karl Malone each grab four rebounds.

2nd quarter: Clang! The Sonics never trail despite shooting just 18 percent (3-of-16) from the field. Reserve Greg Anthony keeps Seattle on top with eight points, four rebounds and aggressive defense. Shandon Anderson netted a game-high 10 points for Utah. The Jazz were without Malone much of the period. He drew his second foul and a technical in the first minute.

3rd quarter: A slam dunk by Greg Foster with 10:07 remaining makes it 43-41 and gives the Jazz their first lead in more than 20 minutes. It doesn't last long, however, with Sam Perkins, Dale Ellis and Nate McMillan hitting 3-pointers as the Sonics eventually erase the deficit and take a seven-point lead.

4th quarter: The lead changes hands five times in the final 5:25 before consecutive 3-pointers by Detlef Schrempf and Hersey Hawkins give the Sonics an 86-82 advantage entering the final minute. Utah eventually closes the gap to two points, but a last-second attempt by John Stockton to force overtime bounces off the rim.

Who's hot: Hawkins, Payton, Perkins, McMillan and Anthony each make two 3-pointers as the Sonics use the long shot to secure the best record in the Western Conference.

Key to the game: Utah's inability to defend Seattle's 3-point shooting. The Sonics, who lead the NBA with 39.9 percent accuracy, went 12-for-23 (52 percent) beyond the arc.

Records: Jazz 53-18; SuperSonics 54-18.

Quotable: "One or two games a year have a tremendous amount of influence, and (this) is the biggest one we will probably have." - Sonics coach George Karl.

Notable: By salvaging a 2-2 split in the season series, Seattle is in position to win a playoff tiebreaker with Utah. The Sonics have a better record against conference opponents . . . Antoine Carr did not make the trip. He has now missed six games because of a strained right hamstring . . . The attendance was 17,072, a sellout . . . The Jazz and Sonics combined for only six fast break points the entire game . . . Utah is now 11-11 against Pacific Division opponents this season . . . Since becoming the Sonics' coach in 1992, George Karl is 15-13 against the Jazz.

Next up: Jazz vs. Portland, 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Delta Center.