FORWARDS: Whoever pinched Karl Malone after his unbelievable performance Sunday is probably searching for Bryon Russell now. Russell drained three 3-pointers in the opening half and ended with 15 points. On the other hand, Malone's shooting touch resembled Gheorghe Muresan's in that Snicker's commercial. The Mailman only hit 7 of 21 shots for 24 points. But he went inside more, resulting in 14 FTs (and he made 10).

Edge: Jazz

CENTERS: You've heard it a billion times: "Defense wins championships." Not hatt we'd know about that in Utah, but the theme is valid for judging the center play Tuesday. Both sides lauded Jazz starting center Greg Foster for his defensive play against, at times, all of the Three Tall Amigos. Malone was no slouch either. David Robinson, Tim Duncan and Will Perdue were held to a combined series-low 35 points on 10-of-31 shooting. The Admiral scored 11 in the 4th, but it didn't matter.

Edge: tie

GUARDS: After taking only took 3 shots Sunday, Jeff Hornacek returned to his sweet-shooting self. He was 8-for-14 for 19 points, including 8 in the 1st quarter. John Stockton, who only had 2 assists, was a scoring machine after Robinson popped him in the head and knocked him to the ground with a wild-but-inadvertent elbow (sound familiar?) late on. After the incident, Stockton scored nine of his 12 points. Spurs point Avery Johnson finally struggled from the field (4-for-11).

Edge: Jazz

BENCHES: You know you're in trouble when Vinny Del Negro is the only player who shows up in a win-or-golf-early game. That's about what happened to San Antonio. As the rest of his team heaved bricks, Del Negro came off the pine to keep the blowout to a minimum with a 17-point outing on 8-of-14 shooting. Utah's Big Dawg deserves a courtesy woof for hustling down a couple of loose balls, but the only Jazz sub to really contribute was Howard Eisley. He had his best game of the series: 8 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds.

Edge: Spurs

COACHING: It would have been interesting to see what San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich would have done had he not been restrained - for the umpteenth time this series - when referee Joey Crawford gave him a technical and then pointed in his face. Jerry Sloan, who finished 2nd to Larry Bird for NBA coach of the year, had the Jazz playing great defense for a second straight game. Thanks to that, he has this team in the Western Conference Finals for the 5th time in 7 years.

Edge: Jazz