EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- With a successful five-game trip behind them, the surging Utah Jazz could easily be called kings of the road.
With Karl Malone scoring 24 of his 32 points in the second half and Howard Eisley hitting two crucial baskets in the final minute the Jazz downed the New Jersey Nets 92-88 Sunday for their 10th victory in 11 games.
Seven of those victories and the lone loss have come on the road. The Utah victory also snapped New Jersey's winning streak at four games and was just the fourth loss at home for the Nets in the last 23.
"To get through this trip with just one loss is terrific," said Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek. "We've put ourselves in a position to win our division and have a great season."
Malone was willing to take the bad -- what there was of it -- with the good.
"When you finish a road trip, you always look back," he said. "I missed six free throws in the second half of that Philly game (a 99-97 Jazz loss Friday) and if you take them away we win that one too.
"This was the kind of game a veteran team guts out," said Malone who fouled out for the first time since Nov. 5, 1995, with 48 seconds to play. "You can't allow yourself to think tired, that you've been out on the road a while. In this business it's easy to say 'I'm tired, let's take this one off and get the next.' But our attitude is that we're going to go out and try to win every game we play."
The Nets led 78-74 with 6:58 to play after Stephon Marbury hit a jump shot. But Malone hit three baskets to spark an eight-point run that put the Jazz ahead 82-78 with 2:52 remaining.
A jump hook and two free throws by Keith Van Horn enabled New Jersey to tie the game at 82. But with 1:33 to go, Malone, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, established position on the left block, powered his way to the basket and was fouled by Van Horn. His three-point play put the Jazz ahead for good.
Van Horn scored on a drive with 1:17 remaining, pulling the Nets within a point. But Eisley hit a fadeaway jumper from the left making it 87-84 with 57.2 remaining.
"It's disappointing," said Nets forward Kendall Gill. "We were right there at the end, but Howard made two big shots and we missed. But they're a great team and they've done this before."
Van Horn hit two more free throws with 48.3 to play, but Eisley answered with a 20-foot jumper 20 seconds later. Two free throws by Greg Ostertag and a foul shot by John Stockton in the closing second wrapped up the victory.
Eisley and Bryon Russell added 15 points each for the Jazz, winners of seven of their last eight on the road. Marbury led the Nets with 23 points and 12 assists. Kerry Kittles and Van Horn each added 14 points apiece.
Notes: Before the game, Nets GM John Nash said New Jersey is not in the race to sign J.R. Rider, recently released by the Atlanta Hawks ... "We realize his talent is immense but if there is a line (to sign him as a free agent) we're not in it."... Utah is slated to play 10 of its 16 games in March on the road as well as nine of its last 17.
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