TheSonics werebeaten convincingly in Game 1 by the Jazz on Saturday.

They lost by 11 points.They shot 42 percent from the field.

They were lit up like a pinball machine by Karl Malone.

They did the impossible by making Greg Ostertag look like Bill Russell.

In other words, the Sonics have the Jazz right where they want them.

The Jazz always have to be careful about winning Game 1 in a playoff series because they have this curious little habit of losing Game 2. They have accomplished this feat in 10 playoff series, including the last three. They lost half of them.

The good news: The Jazz won Game 1.

The bad news: The Jazz won Game 1.

This fact is not lost on the Jazz. Well, actually, it is.

"I was just informed of that a few minutes ago (by a reporter)," said guard John Stockton. The Jazz's Game 1/Game 2 flip-flop was news to him, but what's a reporter for? Stockton isn't exactly losing sleep over this.

"I never think about previous series," he said, in what was hardly

a surprising response. "It has no bearing on this one."

Let's talk about it anyway. Last season the Jazz opened the playoffs with a 30-point win over the Kings in Salt Lake City. Two nights later they lost to the Kings by 11 in Salt Lake.

In the second round of last year's playoffs, the Jazz beat the Blazers by 10 in Salt Lake. Two days later they lost to the Blazers by three in Salt Lake.

Two seasons ago, the Jazz opened the NBA Finals with a three-point overtime win over the Bulls in Salt Lake. Two days later they lost to the Bulls by five in Salt Lake.

If Stockton and the Gang are not worrying about such matters, leave it to Coach Worry Wart to pick up the slack.

"I was well aware of that," said Jerry Sloan when the subject of the Jazz's Game 2 follies was raised. "We get comfortable with the fact that we won, and we get to believing we don't have to play hard. The other team sits in town for a couple of days and listens to all the things being said about the Jazz. The media is real positive about the team, and the other team doesn't like to listen to that."

The Sonics got a good start on working up a little extra incentive for Game 2. They were peeved after the Jazz went out of their way to help Malone score his 49th and 50th points in the final seconds of Saturday's game. Malone made a good effort at damage control by discussing the issue with Horace Grant immediately after the game, but apparently Grant didn't pass the goodwill along to his teammates. Why waste a perfectly good motivational gimmick?

Asked about Malone's late basket, center Vin Baker said, "Oh, it matters. It matters a lot."

So there you have it: The series' first sign of trouble. "Everyone is looking for a way to motivate their team," said Sloan. "That's the bottom line."

Even before Malone made his final basket, Stockton worried that the Sonics would make an issue of it. "I thought about that a little bit," he said. "I thought it was important that we didn't go out of our way to get him a shot. We needed to make five or six passes, and we did do that. All of our offense goes through him anyway. We passed it around, and he made a tough shot." Stockton started to say more on the issue, but then he waved off with his hand. " . . . Never mind. It doesn't matter anyway."

You can reach Doug Robinson by e-mail at drob@desnews.com

drob column

THE SONICS WERE beaten convincingly in Game 1 by the Jazz on Saturday.

They lost by 11 points.

They shot 42 percent from the field.

They were lit up like a pinball machine by Karl Malone.

They did the impossible by making Greg Ostertag look like Bill Russell.

In other words, the Sonics have the Jazz right where they want them.

The Jazz always have to be careful about winning Game 1 in a playoff series because they have this curious little habit of losing Game 2. They have accomplished this feat in 10 different playoff series, including the last three. They lost half of them.

The good news: The Jazz won Game 1.

The bad news: The Jazz won Game 1.

This fact is not lost on the Jazz. Well, actually, it is.

"I was just informed of that a few minutes ago (by a reporter)," said guard John Stockton. The Jazz's Game 1/Game 2 flip-flop was news to him, but what's a reporter for? Stockton isn't exactly losing sleep over this.

"I never think about previous series," he said, in what was hardly a surprising response. "It has no bearing on this one."

Let's talk about it anyway. Last season the Jazz opened the playoffs with a 30-point win over the Kings in Salt Lake City. Two nights later they lost to the Kings by 11 in Salt Lake.

In the second round of last year's playoffs, the Jazz beat the Blazers by 10 in Salt Lake. Two days later they lost to the Blazers by three in Salt Lake.

Two seasons ago, the Jazz opened the NBA Finals with a three-point overtime win over the Bulls in Salt Lake. Two days later they lost to the Bulls by five in Salt Lake.

If Stockton and the Gang are not worrying about such matters, leave it to Coach Worry Wart to pick up the slack.

"I was well aware of that," said Jerry Sloan when the subject of the Jazz's Game 2 follies was raised. "We get comfortable with the fact that we won, and we get to believing we don't have to play hard. The other team sits in town for a couple of days and listens to all the things being said about the Jazz. The media is real positive about the team, and the other team doesn't like to listen to that."

The Sonics got a good start on working up a little extra incentive for Game 2. They were peeved after the Jazz went out of their way to help Malone score his 49th and 50th points in the final seconds of Saturday's game. Malone made a good effort at damage control by discussing the issue with Horace Grant immediately after the game, but apparently Grant didn't pass the goodwill along to his teammates. Why waste a perfectly good motivational gimmick?

Asked about Malone's late basket, center Vin Baker said, "Oh, it matters. It matters a lot."

So there you have it: The series' first sign of trouble. "Everyone is looking for a way to motivate their team," said Sloan. "That's the bottom line."

Even before Malone made his final basket, Stockton worried that the Sonics would make an issue of it. "I thought about that a little bit," he said. "I thought it was important that we didn't go out of our way to get him a shot. We needed to make five or six passes, and we did do that. All of our offense goes through him anyway. We passed it around, and he made a tough shot." Stockton started to say more on the issue, but then he waved off with his hand. " . . . Never mind. It doesn't matter anyway."

You can reach Doug Robinson by e-mail at drob@desnews.com