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News 'fired up' Malone

Mailman's 40 gives Utah 6th place in West

ORLANDO, Fla. — Karl Malone, Greg Ostertag and Scott Padgett gathered on the court to watch CNN on a nine-inch TV you practically had to squint to see.

Back at the coaches' office in the visitors' locker room at TD Waterhouse Centre prior to the Jazz's Wednesday-night win over the Orlando Magic, coach Jerry Sloan was watching the same news as his players.

"We were all talking about it before the game," Sloan said. "Wow! What a thing."

'It,' of course, is Wednesday's rescue of Elizabeth Smart, the Salt Lake teen who disappeared last June from her Federal Heights neighborhood home.

"(Someone) came running over and said (she was found alive), and then I went and looked at the screen, and it did something to me," Malone said after scoring a season-high 40 points in the Jazz's 111-108 victory. "Man, I was fired up."

Like most everyone, Sloan said he was "just anxious to hear . . . all the details."

Whatever those are, the Jazz coach suggested, the news really puts his profession in proper perspective.

"This — basketball — doesn't mean anything, when it's all said and done. This is not life-and-death," Sloan said. "I just hope that she's OK, and healthy. That's the bottom line."

Malone expressed similar sentiments, saying the story struck a nerve that prompted him to ponder, " 'What if that was my daughter?' "

And it wasn't just Utah players and coaches affected in Orlando.

Local Orlando reporters, Magic game-day personnel and arena security guards all were glued to various TVs as they watched the story break before the game.

One fan in the stands even held a sign that read, "WELCOME HOME ELIZABETH SMART . . . We Believe in Magic."

"That's awesome," Malone said. "God bless her — her, and her family. That's unbelievable."


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com