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The Mailman makes huge matinee delivery

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OAKLAND — At the halfway point of the Jazz's 2001-2002 season, some truths still seem to hold up.

One is that beating Golden State happens much more often than not. Another: The Warriors usually make Utah work for its win. Lastly, probability is quite high Karl Malone will post big numbers when these two teams get together.

All that happened in the Jazz's 101-99 Monday matinee win over the Warriors.

Utah's victory — its only one on a three-game trip that started in San Antonio and Dallas — was its fourth straight over Golden State, and its 21st in its last 22 meetings with the Warriors.

The 22-19 Jazz did have to scramble, sealing the win only after Bryon Russell made five free throws and intentionally missed a sixth in the game's final 15.7 seconds.

And — surprise, surprise — Malone padded his No. 2 all-time NBA career scoring stats, adding 37 to the 32,872 with which he came to Oakland.

That along with his season-high of 39 in December gives him 76 in two wins this season over the Warriors, against whom the Mailman has delivered three of his top-five scoring performances — 49 in a 1990 game, 51 in '95 and 56 on April 7, 1998.

"I don't think about it," Malone said of the way he routinely abuses Golden State. "I just try to come and do what I can do."

The Jazz, however, did not try nearly hard enough to satisfy coach Jerry Sloan, who praised the 13-27 Warriors for playing like his own club did not.

"I told our guys, 'I think they have a little more toughness than we do in going after the ball,' " said Sloan, who later ripped a few nameless Jazz players for not pulling their weight. "We have some guys just riding it out right now. . . . Some guys don't want to work."

Accordingly, Utah had to work extra-hard in Monday's fourth quarter.

The Jazz did not take their final lead until getting a fastbreak layup with just under five minutes left from reserve forward Scott Padgett, who added to his string of recent strong games with a 13-point, two-steal effort.

With less than a minute remaining, they were still only up by 2. And when Malone missed a 16-footer, Golden State had a golden opportunity to tie. Instead Padgett and rookie center Jarron Collins both contested the rebound, allowing Russell to tap the ball to John Stockton and run several more seconds off the clock.

Four Russell free throws were answered with a banked jumper and a 3-pointer from Jason Richardson, but by the time Troy Murphy fouled Russell after Richardson's trey, only a half-second remained. Russell made his first freebie and missed the second on purpose, denying the Warriors a last-gasp chance and giving them their 10th loss in 11 games.

Russell finished 8-of-10 from the line, absorbing some sting from his 1-of-7 field shooting. In his last three games, the career 45-percent shooter has made only 2-of-21.

"Right now I'm going through a slump, which I'm not even going to worry about," Russell said, "because I know I'm a better shooter than what my stats say."

NOTES: In his first game back after missing two with a sore knee, Jazz backup point guard John Crotty had 12 points in 19 minutes . . . Jazz small forward Donyell Marshall played eight scoreless minutes, and afterward said he aggravated the hip bruise that caused him to miss Utah's previous five games. "I think I just came back too fast," Marshall said, adding he doubted he'd play Wednesday vs. San Antonio . . . Rookie Andrei Kirilenko made his fifth straight start in place of usual-starter Marshall . . . On-the-trade-block Warriors center Marc Jackson dressed but did not play for a fifth straight game. Jackson, who has trade-veto power, reportedly has said he would approve a deal to Memphis, Orlando or Indiana. But, so far, Golden State has not found a swap it is willing to make.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com