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Malone, Russell plan to keep shooting

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Karl Malone scored 21 points and had 14 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.

Bryon Russell added 15 points, 6-for-12 shooting, eight boards, two assists and a steal.Along with John Stockton's 24 points and eight assists, that added up to the Utah Jazz's 88-85 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Wednesday in the Delta Center.

But Malone and Russell were shaking their heads about their shooting afterward.

Before he made back-to-back jumpers from 15 and 19 feet in the final 1:43 of regulation, Malone had missed all 12 of the shots he'd taken from 13 or more feet out, and he'd even missed half of his 10 layup attempts. For the night, he was 9-for-25.

The two jumpers Malone made gave the Jazz just enough points to buy the overtime as Chicago's Luc Longley was able to bang in a short jumper with :14.3 left to tie it at 79.

Russell missed an open 3-pointer with 35 seconds left that would likely have won the game without the extra session. "It felt great," Russell said of the shot, "but I couldn't worry about it because I knew I had to come back and play a challenging guy on defense."

Russell, who was 0-for-4 on threes, added: "I can do better. I won't pull another `oh-fer.' "

Malone made no promises to make his shots, but he did promise to keep taking them in Game 2. "Even though I didn't shoot the basketball well," Malone said, "I stayed in the offense and didn't try to rush things. On Friday, if those shots are there, I'm going to take those shots."

He had endorsements from Russell and Jeff Hornacek. "We know he's going to get it going. He hit some big shots down the stretch," said Russell.

Hornacek encouraged the Mailman to keep firing Wednesday. "Hornacek kept telling me it's a 48-minute game," said Malone. "He didn't tell me anything about the overtime," he cracked, "but he said it's a 48-minute game, and he said keep shooting."

Malone said the shots were there. "Probably the whole night, I took probably three tough shots," he said. "All the rest of the shots were within the offense. My main thing throughout this playoff is to try to stay within the offensive scheme of things, and down the stretch, we ran the same plays.

"Those plays are really not designed for me to pass it," Malone said. He'd have been upset if he'd missed and the Jazz had lost, "but you can't be afraid to take the next shot."

Malone and Russell still made important plays. A Malone rebound led to his own layup to end the first quarter pulling the Jazz into a 17-17 tie after they'd been down by four. Russell rebounded a Michael Jordan miss, and that led to a Stockton bucket that upped Utah's halftime lead to five points when it had been down to one seconds earlier.

Russell's 22-footer with 27 seconds left in the third quarter gave Utah an eight-point lead going into the fourth. Malone's two jumpers were the last Jazz points scored in the fourth quarter, and his layup at 3:41 of the overtime was the first score for either team and gave Malone three straight makes.

Twice in the overtime, Russell tussled with the Bulls' Longley for loose balls. Longley was able to pull one away from Russell and call time to avoid a turnover with Utah ahead 84-80 and 2:42 left. "I had it for a brief moment," Russell said.

Russell got the next one as Longley tried to dribble and shoot but lost the handle. Russell reeled it in and called time with :28.4 left in overtime and Utah up 84-82. That possession led to a Stockton runner with :09.3 left. "I was just trying to get my hand on every loose ball that I can," said Russell.