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PICTURE-PERFECT CORBIN BURNS SIXERS

By the time Tyrone Corbin had made his fifth straight shot, it was starting to look like a baseball no-hitter. People hanging on every attempt, counting them as they go. Six . . . seven . . . eight . . .

For all the star power assembled Wednesday night at the Delta Center, the game's most significant star was Corbin, who got stuck somewhere between sensational and bullet-proof. Corbin made all nine shots he attempted, all three free throws and finished with 21 points as the Jazz held off Philadelphia, 100-94.While Corbin has been roundly hailed as a major addition to the Jazz lineup this year, he has privately wished he was playing better. That despite a decent-enough .475 percentage from the field and a knack collecting small change wherever it presented itself - loose balls, offensive rebounds, long rebounds, steals, deflected passes.

This time, though, the Jazz needed shooting, and Corbin provided it. By halftime he had made all five attempts. In the shaky third quarter he added two more.

As Corbin burned, teammates went about their business, careful not to jinx him by bringing up his state of unconsciousness. "On a situation like that, you don't say nothing to him," said Jazz forward Karl Malone. "You don't want to do nothing to get him off the roll. You know you didn't do nothing to get him going, so you don't say anything to make him miss."

Certainly the Sixers didn't do much to make him miss, either. Late in the first quarter Corbin got his first points on a baseline shot that put the Jazz ahead 19-16. Fully warmed up, Corbin scored four straight baskets and two free throws for a 10-point second period.

If Corbin's scoring looked familiar, one need only to hearken back to his playing days in Minnesota. There he was one of the big scorers and averaged over 12 points a game. Since coming to Utah he has not only been coming off the bench, but his scoring average - due to fewer shooting opportunities - is down to 8.3.

"Tonight brought back some little memories of the old days," said Corbin. "I had a chance to get in a rhythm and I was able to hit my shots."

Aside from Corbin's hot hand, the game had the feel of a cool walk through the park. The Jazz kept building leads, losing them and building them back up.

"We were willing to give up his jumper rather than Jeff Malone's. We gambled and he did great, he made some big shots," said Sixers' coach Jim Lynam.

There was, of course, a fair amount of discourse going on, which isn't unusual when the Sixers are in town. Barkley, an off-season friend of Olympic teammate Karl Malone, could be seen smiling and talking with the Mailman at the free throw lane. Notorious trash-talker Manute Bol, came on in the second period for Barkley, pausing long enough at the scorer's table to call out, "How ya doing, Fat Man?" to a Jazz fan.

Seconds later Bol picked up a foul when Stockton, a third Olympian, faked him to Sudan and back, drawing a foul. Stockton was knocked down, and he and Bol exchanged good-natured smiles. Thirty seconds later, Bol was less engaging when he elbowed rookie David Benoit after a rebound, then woofed at Benoit all the way down the court.

Meanwhile, Corbin had to know it was his night when he took a Malone pass down low, but bobbled it away. However, the ball bounced through Bol's legs, right back to Corbin, who nestled in an easy layup.

Leading 49-38 at the half, the Jazz went through another tepid third-quarter pause, getting outscored 11-0 in a run that cut Utah's lead to 53-49.

Barkley's four-point play - a three-pointer and a free throw - cut the Jazz lead to 96-93 with 18 seconds to go. But Jeff Malone made four free throws down the stretch to ice the win.

As for the much-anticipated Mailman-Barkley matchup, nothing combustible happened. The Mailman led the Jazz with 28 points and 10 boards, Barkley did the same with 23 points 11 rebounds for the Sixers. They only guarded one another part of the night and spent the post-game interview sessions exchanging pleasantries.

"I like playing against Karl. It's tough sometimes because he's a friend of yours, and you know it's going to be a war because he's a great player. You've got to make some plays and we didn't make them when we had the chances," said Barkley.

Said Malone, "I get along with every player in the league, but Charles is my best friend - other than my teammates. I know the Charles Barkley you guys will never know."

The Charles Barkley the news media knows had nothing to say about the hug and exchange of words they had courtside after the final buzzer, declaring it a private conversation.

"I can't tell you what we said," added Malone.

For the Sixers, who have lost eight of their last 11, hanging on until the season's end may be a good goal. For the Jazz, it's a matter of winning the Midwest Division. Those chances increased with a Spurs' loss to Charlotte on Wednesday.

"The Olympics are a long time away," said Barkley. "They are more concerned with winning the Midwest Division and we are concerned with making the playoffs."

NOTES: Corbin's 21 points was a high since joining the Jazz in November . . . Blue Edwards will miss Friday's game with the Lakers to attend the funeral of his grandmother . . . Stockton needs 12 assists to move past Lenny Wilkens into fifth-place on the all-time list.