NBA PLAYOFFS / WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS : Malone Wins Challenge, Jazz Wins Game

From Associated Press

Karl Malone showed shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo a lack of respect, taking him to the hoop all night in scoring 32 points Thursday to lead the Utah Jazz to a 104-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

The Jazz took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series and have won five games in a row in the playoffs.

Rather than avoiding Mutombo, the Nuggets' 7-foot-2 center, Malone challenged him, twice drawing fouls while making shots, and got 12 rebounds as the Jazz successfully defended their home-court advantage.

Jay Humphries, David Benoit, Tom Chambers and John Stockton each scored 12 points for the Jazz. Stockton also had eight assists.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf had 23 points for Denver before leaving the game because of a bruised right knee late in the fourth quarter. LaPhonso Ellis added 20 points for the Nuggets, who earned their first conference semifinal assignment since 1988 by upsetting Seattle, the NBA's best regular-season team, in the first round.

Denver lost the first two games of that series in Seattle.

Reggie Williams scored 16 points for the Nuggets, who also got eight blocks from Mutombo.

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