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JAZZ FINALLY FIND HOME FIRES BURNING

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The Portland Trail Blazers weren't prepared for what the Utah Jazz threw at them Monday night at the Delta Center.

Sure, the Blazers had seen the films and learned the schemes, and most of them had played against the Jazz many times before. But what they couldn't have foreseen was the Jazz's intensity level from the opening tipoff."They came out with real energy and purpose tonight," said Portland coach P.J. Carlesimo after Utah's 101-89 victory, "and it took us awhile to match that energy. They just took it to us."

The first quarter was a marvel, probably Utah's best quarter of the season. The Jazz shot 65.2 percent from the field in jumping out to a 34-10 lead. That's the fewest points ever scored by a Portland team in a first quarter. The Blazers, who came into the game riding a three-game win streak, hit four of 20 shots (20 percent), were outrebounded 14-7 and committed five turnovers. The Jazz had 11 assists in the quarter.

"I thought it was the best I've seen us come out," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "Everybody was passing the ball and was unselfish."

The Jazz had a reason for all that drive. They had lost three straight at home, and there was some motivation to win one here before embarking on a six-game Eastern road swing. But mostly, they just wanted to re-establish the fact that the Delta Center is theirs.

"We'd taken a beating from a couple of teams we felt we should have beaten," said Jazz guard John Stockton. Like Minnesota, for instance.

The Jazz re-established themselves so well in that first quarter, in fact, that the other three periods were all downhill. Portland made a minor run toward the end of the third quarter, getting to within 13 at 73-60, but the Jazz went on an 11-3 spurt to push the lead back to 21. The Blazers trimmed the lead to the mid-teens midway through the fourth, but the Jazz answered when necessary until the final minute or so.

If this had been a movie, it would have been like seeing the ending first. It was one quarter of brilliance, three quarters of anticlimax. At least it was a relaxing night for the fans, who could sit back and watch Bear ride his sled down the aisle or get a kick out of injured Clyde Drexler getting a technical - and tossed out of the arena - while on the bench in civilian clothes. Portland's Chris Dudley also earned a T, for telling referee Jim Clark that his colleague, Jake O'Donnell, is a . . . well, needless to say, it wasn't "saint."

The game was close for almost two minutes, at which point it was tied 6-6. But the Blazers got stuck on six for 61/2 minutes, and before they could reach eight the Jazz led by 17. Cliff Robinson, who hurt the Jazz in Portland a couple of weeks ago, got off to a 1-for-7 start in that black period for the Blazers, en route to a 1-for-13 game. And Rod Strickland, whose return from the injured list has sparked this team lately, hit just five of 15 shots. At one point in the fourth quarter, before he emptied the bench, Carlesimo had a team on the floor that had made four of 25 shots. For the night, Portland shot 35.9 percent.

Only three Jazzmen scored in double figures, but everyone played and everyone scored. Karl Malone led the way with 27 points, Felton Spencer totaled 17 and nine rebounds and Jeff Hornacek added 13. Stockton contributed a season-high 15 assists.

For the Blazers, every player scored, too. It just took more effort. Strickland had 17 (and 11 assists), Harvey Grant scored 16, Dudley 11 (nine boards) and James Robinson 10.

The Jazz next play Wednesday night in Minneapolis against the T-Wolves, who started Utah's home-loss streak.

GAME NOTES: Utah's Jay Humphries was fined $3,500 by the NBA for hitting Vinnie Del Negro during last week's game in San Antonio . . . Against the Blazers, Humphries hit his first three-pointer of the season . . . The Blazers did a couple of things well: They hit 90 percent (18 of 20) from the foul line, and they totaled 20 offensive rebounds.

*****

Additional Information

Pistons sign Bond

The Detroit Pistons signed guard Walter Bond on Monday to replace Lindsey Hunter, out with a broken foot.

Bond was waived by Utah on Dec. 3 after averaging 6.8 points in 14 games.