Utah 97, Denver 75

Game 73: Friday night at the Delta Center1st 2nd 3rd 4th

Nuggets 20 19 22 14 - 75

Jazz 21 26 28 22 - 97

1st quarter: The lowly Nuggets actually open up a five-point advantage before the Jazz score eight straight to take the lead for good. Jeff Hornacek scores nine to pace Utah.

2nd quarter: Karl Malone scores eight points and the Jazz shoot 69 percent from the field as they bulk up their lead. Still, the Nuggets stay within striking distance as they trail by only eight at the half.

3rd quarter: Malone adds eight more points and Hornacek scores six as the Jazz continue to pull away from the cold-shooting Nuggets.

4th quarter: Utah pads its lead to win its 53rd game of the year easily. Denver is left searching for that elusive 10th victory.

Who's hot: Hornacek went 5-for-7 from the line and made all five foul shots to finish with 15 points.

Key to the game: The Jazz shot 54 percent from the field. The Nuggets made only 30.5 percent of their shots.

Records: Jazz 55-18; Nuggets 9-65

Quotable: "They're world champions and we're 9-63, so we do what we can do while we're in there." - Nuggets forward Danny Fortson, apparently forgetting that the Jazz lost to the Bulls last season. Either that, or he's predicting good things for the Jazz during this year's playoffs.

Notable: Greg Ostertag, sporting a new shaved-head look, finished with six points, eight rebounds and seven blocked shots in 24 minutes. . . . Antoine Carr missed his eighth straight game due to a strained right hamstring. He has been practicing with the team on a limited basis, but his playing status for Sunday's game at Vancouver is questionable. . . . Jazz owner Larry H. Miller had the Nuggets fans Rich Babisch and Al Lieberman as his guests on the front row. Remember them? They were the fans that Miller nearly got into a fight with during the Utah-Denver playoffs series in 1994. Obviously, neither party holds any grudges. . . . The Jazz swept the season series against the Nuggets for the second year in a row. . . . Former Jazz owner Sam Battistone greeted some of the Jazz players in the post-game locker room.

Next Up: Jazz at Vancouver Grizzlies, Sunday, 5:30 p.m. at G.M. Place.