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Jazz 'home' for Mavs in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY — So just how did the Jazz wind up in Mexico City to start their 2003-04 NBA preseason?

The invitation came more than a year ago, courtesy of the NBA, which needed an opponent for the Dallas Mavericks to play in one of the league's many exhibition visits abroad.

The Mavs and Mexico native Edjuardo Najera, make no mistake, are the main draw for tonight's game at the Palacio de los Deportes in this country's capital city — especially considering that the Jazz no longer have NBA superstars John Stockton, who retired after last season, and Karl Malone, who joined the Los Angeles Lakers last July.

But Utah, spokesman Kim Turner said, is considered the "home team" for tonight's game, and as such the Jazz will pocket an undisclosed appearance fee for participating.

A sellout crowd of more than 18,000 is expected at the sports palace, where the Jazz last played when they lost to Dallas but beat Phoenix as part of a four-team preseason exhibition in 1996.

Jazz players left for Mexico City on Saturday morning, were invited along with members of the Mavs to a Saturday-night reception hosted by the United States' ambassador to Mexico and are scheduled to return home to Salt Lake immediately after tonight's game.

The Jazz do not play their next preseason game after tonight until Saturday night, when they host Seattle at the Delta Center.