Jazz win first pre-season game

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    By DARREN WILCOX

    The Utah Jazz used an 8-0 run midway through the second quarter to pull away from the Charlotte Hornets in front of 19,078 fans Saturday night, winning their first pre-season game 105-86.

    The Jazz were led by center Greg Ostertag who scored 13 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. Jeff Hornacek was the Jazz high scorer with 17 and Chris Morris came off the bench to hit four three-pointers, including a 71-footer as the halftime buzzer sounded.

    Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan was pleased with the overall effort of the team, despite a sloppy start that saw the Jazz trailing after the first half.

    “We started off very poor defensively in the first quarter,” Sloan said. “We had quite a few guys who played pretty well … I’d run out of breath trying to talk about them.”

    The Jazz came out flat, scoring only 10 points in the first six minutes of the first quarter. Conversely, Glen Rice connected on his first three shots from outside the 3-point arc to lead the Hornets to an early seven point lead. Rice finished with a team high 19 points.

    However, the Jazz battled back behind the shooting of Hornacek and the rebounding of Ostertag. Backup point guard Howard Eisley hit a 24-foot bank shot from the top of the key to bring Utah within one after one quarter.

    Charlotte, who shot 46 percent from the floor in the first, couldn’t maintain their shooting touch, leading to Utah’s second quarter run. The Hornets shot a miserable 24 percent from the floor in the second, including 25 percent from 3 point land.

    Karl Malone scored 11 points in only 22 minutes, but logged his best play on defense. Matched up against Charlotte’s star forward Anthony Mason, Malone was brilliant, holding Mason scoreless and limiting him to six defensive rebounds. Mason finished with 9 points, but all were scored after Malone sat down.

    The Jazz put the game away in the third quarter, shooting a scorching 79 percent from the floor, including 9 of 11 from the free throw line. Hornacek and Ostertag were the highlights as the Jazz opened up an 18 point lead.

    “(Ostertag)’s made a lot of improvement, he’s made terrific improvement,” Sloan said. “But our job is to try to make him better every time he steps on the floor, and he has gotten better. We all have such high hopes for Greg that we just keep working with him and he’s done a great job.”

    Ostertag agreed his game has improved and said he was pleased with his overall performance.

    “The third quarter I thought I was getting up and down the floor well, running the offense well and got a couple of inside plays and got fouled,” Ostertag said. “My job is to rebound and block shots. Any scoring I do is kind of bonus.”

    Utah finished the game at 50 percent from the field, including 5 of 12 from behind the 3-point arc. Charlotte scored just 37 points in the second half and finished at 34 percent from the field. Head coach Dave Cowens attributed his team’s shooting woes to playing back-to-back games on the road.

    “We played like a tired team,” Cowens said. “We need to just run and keep putting pressure on guys and when we don’t, then we play into their strengths. … We didn’t shoot the ball very good at all.”

    Despite the win, the Jazz did not have a stellar game, turning the ball over 23 times. Five of those were credited to rookie Jacque Vaughn, who played eight minutes in relief of John Stockton and Eisley. Stockton finished with 14 points and eight assists in 20 minutes.

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