Karl Malone has a new basketball to add to his already impressive collection of sports memorabilia.
Malone, with a free throw not five minutes into Sunday night's game against the Golden State Warriors, became the sixth leading scorer in NBA history. It was one of the only highlights in an otherwise one-sided affair in which the Jazz ripped the lowly Warriors, 115-88.The Mailman surpassed one of the all-time hoop greats, Oscar Robertson, with his seventh point of the night. Malone has now scored 26,724 points during his distinguished career.
And he took with him a souvenir to remind him of his most recent milestone. Malone saved the ball. He'll put it with the other game balls he's collected over the years, including the ones from when he became the 10th, 9th, 8th and 7th-leading scorer in league history.
"I've been lucky to be on a team that has a lot of confidence in my ability, and I get the ball a lot," said Malone, explaining why he's scored so many points. "I haven't been injured, knock on wood, so I've been able to play in a lot of games."
In addition to becoming the sixth-leading scorer of all time, Malone flirted with a triple-double on Sunday. He had 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds with an entire quarter to play. But, with the Jazz leading by 30-plus points, his night was over.
"It didn't enter my mind" to put Malone back in the game in the fourth quarter, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We're not there to try to embarrass anybody."
Added Malone, "For me to stay in the game to try to (get a triple-double) is degrading to the other team and the other players. If I get it within the flow of the game, that's one thing. But for me to come back into the game just to get a triple-double is cheating the game and rubbing it in the other guys' faces. That's not what I'm about."
It was Utah's first visit to the new-and-improved Oakland Coliseum Arena. It's a beautiful building with good sight lines, all the amenities you'd expect and plenty of luxury suites. It's just too bad the Warriors play there, because they're stinking up the joint.
Golden State fell to 8-36 with the loss, while the Jazz improved to 30-14.
Utah scored the game's first nine points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field and never trailed.
The Jazz led by as many as 36 before the bench was cleared and the team started coasting. Ten Jazz-men played 18 minutes or more and nine scored eight points or better. Utah's defense allowed the Warriors to shoot just 34.5 percent from the field.
Still, the ever-hard-to-please Sloan found something to complain about. The Warriors grabbed a season-best 28 offensive boards.
"When you go out on the road and you give up 28 offensive rebounds, that's really bad for basketball," Sloan said. "When you play that way with no enthusiasm, the fans start going home."
While many of the nowhere-near-sellout crowd of 11,269 did, indeed, head to the exits early, the fact that the Jazz gave up a bevy of offensive boards wasn't the likely reason. The Warriors shooting like Stevie Wonder and trailing by more than 30 points probably had more to do with the early exodus.
Bench warmers Tony Delk and Todd Fuller were bright spots for the Warriors, if there can be such things in that kind of a lopsided home loss. Delk scored a career-high 20 points, while Fuller, who had been seldom used until recently, scored 17 points with 15 boards. Fuller's play, however, certainly didn't make the Golden State fans forget that he was taken in the draft two spots ahead of the Lakers' teenage all-star Kobe Bryant a couple of seasons back.
The game, despite being a blowout, was rough. Jazz center Greg Ostertag took a Joe Smith knee to the left ear in the third quarter that knocked him out of the game with a mild concussion. Chris Morris, after only one minute of playing time in the fourth quarter, left after being head-butted by Dickey Simpkins. Bryon Russell was also racked in the head. None of the injuries should keep the Jazz players out of action on Tuesday, however.
The Warriors had a pair of players leave with injuries, too. Former Jazzman Felton Spencer hurt his ribs flying over the first row of fans on the sideline. A young fan was worse for wear, as well, hurting his left ankle. And starting point guard Bimbo Coles left the game with a sprained right hamstring in the second quarter.
Utah had 32 points from its shooting guard position, with Jeff Hornacek and Shandon Anderson scoring 16 each. Adam Keefe netted 11, while Ostertag and Oakland-native Greg Foster scored 10 apiece.
The Jazz flew to southern California after the game, where they will play another struggling club, the Los Angeles Clippers, on Tuesday night. The game will be at the Clippers' home away from home, the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim.
Movin' on up
The top 10 scorers in NBA history
(x - active):
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387
2. Wilt Chamberlain 31,419
3. x-Michael Jordan 28,281
4. Moses Malone 27,409
5. Elvin Hayes 27,313
6. x-Karl Malone 26,724
7. Oscar Robertson 26,710
8. Dominique Wilkins 26,534
9. John Havlicek 26,395
10. Alex English 25,613