Should the Jazz's opening-round Western Conference series with Seattle go the distance, it will be quite some time before we know who advances.

Following Game 1 of the best-of-five series on Saturday afternoon at the Delta Center and Game 2 on Monday night at the Delta Center, the series moves to Seattle.

Game 3, however, will not be played until April 29 — a full four nights off between games. For at least one Jazz player, that's probably too many.

"I look at it both ways," Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek said.

"It will give us some rest, some times to work on things we haven't done a lot the last month. . . . But I don't think any player likes to go that long and sit around. You know: It's the playoffs now. You're in it just to play."

Television is a big reason why the games are spread so far apart, with the NBA's coverage networks wanting to air games from the various series throughout the week — even if it means risking the loss of fan interest between games.

Game 4 of the Jazz-Sonics series, if necessary will be held May 3 in Seattle, four nights after Game 3, and Game 5, if needed, if not scheduled until May 5 — nearly two full weeks after the series begins.

SONICS DROP MAXWELL: "Mad Max" won't be facing the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs for second straight season after all. Vernon Maxwell, who played well for the Kings against Utah a year ago in the postseason, was surprisingly left off Seattle's playoff roster on Wednesday. Guard Fred Vinson was also dropped. Veteran forward Chuck Person and guard 6-5 Emanual Davis were taken off the injured list and are taking Maxwell and Vinson's place on the active roster even though neither one has been healthy enough to get practice in.

Maxwell, after resurrecting his career with the Kings last season, signed a three-year contract with the Sonics. He started the season with a flourish, but tailed off when his right knee became chronically sore. He had surgery on the knee on Jan. 7 and missed 29 games while recovering. Still, Maxwell averaged 10.9 points per game on the year while averaging 15 points in three outings against Utah.

THE END: Final rankings for Jazz statistical leaders among NBA leaders find Hornacek finishing as the top free-throw shooter in the league and second-best 3-point shooter in the league, Karl Malone finishing fifth in the scoring race and 12th in rebounding, and John Stockton finishing sixth in assists.

Hornacek wound up shooting 95-percent (171-of-180) from the line, the third-best season-long percentage in league history and just .08 off of Calvin Murphy's 1980-81 NBA-record pace. He also shot .478 from 3-point range, second only to Hubert Davis of Dallas (.491).

Malone finished with an average of 25.5 points per game in the scoring race, won by Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers at 29.7. Philadelphia's Allen Iverson was second at 28.4, following by Detroit's Grant Hill (25.8) and Toronto's Vince Carter (25.7).

Had Malone hit his average in his last two games, rather than playing reduced minutes to rest for the playoffs and scoring just 10 at Denver on Tuesday and 18 vs. Sacramento on Wednesday, he also would have finished at 25.8.

Stockton finished with an average of 8.6 assists per game, 1.5 behind season assists leader Jason Kidd of Phoenix (10.1).

TICKETS REMAIN: A sellout is expected, but as of late Thursday about 1,000 seats remained unsold for Saturday's game. Tickets are available in all price ranges at the Delta Center box office, at TicketMaster and Graywhale locations throughout the area, or on the internet at www.ticketmaster.com.


You can reach Tim Buckley by e-mail at tbuckley@desnews.com