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Malone sinks Nets, then holds court

Shortly after Utah's 104-92 preseason victory over New Jersey Monday at The Crown, Jazz captain Karl Malone answered questions (at least the ones he wanted to) while sitting at his locker. With his feet immersed in icy water, the Mailman delivered on some hot topics.

What was the difference in the game? asked one reporter, who inquired about Utah's comeback from a 47-38 halftime deficit."In the second half we got aggressive on defense. We had some defensive assignments," replied Malone. "In the first half it seemed like we didn't play with any energy."


What was it like facing former University of Utah star Keith Van Horn for the first time? And how about ex-teammate David Benoit?

"It was like anyone else to me. I just play them," said Malone. ". . . I don't get excited about nobody."

Any other questions?

Yes, how are the Jazz adjusting to life without John Stock-ton?

"I actually think it's going pretty well. We've had opportunities to win ball games and we just didn't do it," Malone said in regard to back-to-back losses to Indiana over the weekend. "I think what guys need to realize on this team is you've got to come out and get it done when you are on the floor.

"You don't want guys just going through the motions," Malone added. "You can't worry about Stockton being here or not here. He's not going to be here and we know that."

Malone said one of his duties as captain will be to ease the way for backup-turned-starter Howard Eisley and rookie reserve Jacque Vaughn to do their jobs.

"They are going to make some mistakes but the worst thing I can do is compound it by yelling and all that. That's not the way to do it," he said.

"You help these guys learn because later on in the future they'll come back and do great things for you. It's easier for me to adjust to them instead of them adjusting to me."

Eisley dished out eight assists Monday - matching a preseason team-high set by Stockton before his injury - as Utah snapped its two-game losing streak. Vaughn, meanwhile, was limited to 10 minutes because of a slight left ankle sprain.

"It's getting easier. These guys are are doing a heckuva job every game we've played," said Malone. "It hasn't been the point guards' problem we haven't won all these games."

Sloan has expressed similar thoughts in recent days. He's concerned the point guards' ability to compete is being hampered by the poor execution of others on the floor.

Eisley, however, insists things are moving along.

"It's going OK," said the soft-spoken Jazz starter.

In the win over the Nets, the Jazz offense had five players score in double figures. Malone led the way with 19 points, while Bryon Russell scored 16 and Greg Foster added 14. Jeff Hornacek and Shandon Anderson chipped in 12 and 11, respectively.

New Jersey, meanwhile, was held to 34 percent shooting in the second half as its lead dissolved. Chris Gatling topped the Nets with 19 points, while Van Horn finished with 15 despite missing his first five shots from the field.

Next up for the Jazz: Wednesday at Charlotte.