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Jazz Pulls Away as Celtics Go Cold

From Associated Press

Matt Harpring scored 25 points and Karl Malone had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Utah Jazz extended its winning streak to four games by beating the slumping Boston Celtics, 96-91, Monday night at Salt Lake City.

John Stockton, who turns 41 on Wednesday, had 17 points and eight assists for Utah, which is No. 6 in the Western Conference playoff standings with 12 games left in the season. The Jazz is 1 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers.

Utah shot 50% in the second half (16 for 32) and held the Celtics to one field goal in the final two minutes.

Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 24 points and eight rebounds. Antoine Walker had 20 points for Boston, which has lost five in a row for the first time under Coach Jim O’Brien.

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The Celtics were playing without starting center Tony Battie, who sat out with a sore left knee, and guard Tony Delk, whose father died Sunday.

Pierce put the Celtics ahead, 88-86, on a three-point basket with 2:56 left, but Boston didn’t score again until J.R. Bremer made a three-pointer in the final seconds.

The Jazz sealed the victory with an 8-0 run that was led by Andrei Kirilenko and Harpring after the score was tied 88-88.

Seattle 82, Phoenix 73 -- Rashard Lewis scored 25 of his 29 points in the second half at Phoenix as the SuperSonics defeated the Suns, an ugly home loss that could prove costly in Phoenix’s fight for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

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Stephon Marbury had 22 points and 10 assists as the Suns matched their season-low in scoring. They also scored 73 in their season-opener at Seattle.

The loss by Phoenix clinched a playoff spot for the San Antonio Spurs. The victory left Seattle just 2 1/2 games behind the Suns with 11 to play.

Dallas 108, Denver 96 -- Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and Nick Van Exel scored 24 at Denver against his former team to help the Mavericks complete their second straight season-series sweep of the Nuggets.

Nowitzki overcame a six-for-23 shooting night by making 12 of 12 free throws. Van Exel, who played nearly four seasons with the Nuggets, was soundly booed throughout the game. He made two layups in the final two minutes.

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It was the eighth win in a row over Denver for the Mavericks, who increased their lead over idle San Antonio to 3 1/2 games in the Midwest Division.

New York 100, Toronto 90 -- Howard Eisley made two three-pointers as part of an 8-0 run to end the third quarter, putting the Knicks in control for good in a victory over the Raptors at New York.

Keeping its slim playoff hopes alive, New York went ahead by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter in sending Toronto to its ninth loss in 10 games.

Kurt Thomas scored 23 and Allan Houston had 20 for the Knicks. Eisley and Latrell Sprewell scored 13 apiece.

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Memphis 110, Orlando 104 -- Pau Gasol scored 26 points and Jason Williams had 17 points and 15 assists at Orlando, Fla., as the Grizzlies handed the Magic its first loss in five games.

Tracy McGrady had 34 points for the Magic, but made only one of 10 shots in the second half when the Magic offense sputtered. Gordan Giricek and Pat Garrity had 19 points apiece for Orlando.

Lorenzen Wright had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who won at Orlando for the first time in franchise history.


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