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Howard, Grayer show they belong in NBA

February 4, 1997

Stephen Howard and Jeff Grayer wanted to show they belong.

Howard, a reserve forward on the last day of his second 10-day contract before signing with Utah through the end of the season, scored a career-high 16 points to help the Jazz bury the Washington Bullets 111-89 Monday night.

``I think I bring something positive to this team, and it just shows that it has been appreciated by the front office as well as the players,″ said Howard, who was cut two other times by the Jazz in the past four years. ``Tonight, we were fortunate that we caught a team on a long road trip that was kind of tired.″

Grayer, playing with a 10-day contract, scored six of his 16 points in a 20-0 run that saw the Sacramento Kings erase a huge deficit en route to an 85-79 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

In the only other NBA game played Monday, Boston defeated Toronto 114-102.

Playing only 27 minutes, Karl Malone led the Jazz with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Bryon Russell added 15 points as Utah handed the Bullets their second blowout loss in two days and sixth straight road defeat.

The victory was Utah’s ninth in its last 11 games. The Jazz led 32-14 after one quarter and 62-32 at the half.

The Bullets, who trailed by as many as 24 points in their game Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, were paced by Gheorghe Muresan’s 18 points. Tracy Murray added 11 for Washington, which has lost eight of 11 games and three straight.

``All I know it that we stunk it up _ period,″ said Bullets guard Rod Strickland, who played 31 minutes and scored 11 points despite a sprained ankle suffered in Sunday’s game. ``Defensively, we were terrible. If we can’t get it done defensively, then we’re in trouble. I don’t know if we were feeling the effects of (Sunday). We were just bad.″

The Jazz outscored the Bullets 10-0 in the last 3:28 of the opening quarter. Midway through the second period, the Jazz led by 28, and Washington did not threaten thereafter.

``It wasn’t much of a game. It was boring, actually,″ said Jeff Hornacek, who played 23 minutes, scoring four points.

Greg Ostertag was at his wife’s side as she gave birth to a girl, Bailey Nichole, Monday night. He then rushed to the Delta Center, where he played 11 minutes in the second half, scoring seven points, grabbing two rebounds and blocking two shots.

``The coaches gave me the choice of whether I wanted to come to the game or not, and I told them I would be here,″ Ostertag said. ``I really wanted to play this game. I just didn’t know I wouldn’t get there until the second half.″

Kings 85, Spurs 79

In San Antonio, the Kings had Mitch Richmond and Tyus Edney to go along with Grayer.

Richmond scored 26 points and Edney sealed the win with two free throws with 24 seconds left as Sacramento reversed an embarrassing 20-point loss to San Antonio on Jan. 17. In that game, Richmond was ejected in the second quarter and Edney sat out with a strained neck.

Monday night, the Spurs closed to 71-66 in the fourth period before Grayer hit a 3-pointer and Edney added two free throws.

Vernon Maxwell paced the Spurs, who lost their fourth straight, with 15 points.

Celtics 114, Raptors 102

In Toronto, Eric Williams scored 27 points and three other Boston starters had at least 20 points as the Celtics won on the road for only the second time this season. Todd Day added 26 points, David Wesley had 25 and Antoine Walker 20.

Damon Stoudamire led the Raptors with 26 points and 10 assists.