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Jazz 68, Mavericks 66

December 13, 1997

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Two ushers were assigned to guard a freshly painted wall Friday night at the Delta Center.

They might have had the most exciting time of anyone in the building.

Watching paint dry seemed like more fun than watching the Utah Jazz defeat the Dallas Mavericks 68-66 in the lowest-scoring NBA game this season and the fifth-lowest in league history.

Utah set a franchise record for fewest points and fewest field goals (23) in a game, and only a layup by Erick Strickland as time expired prevented Dallas from setting its own record for fewest points.

``They did an incredible job executing a game plan, and it almost got them a win,″ said Utah forward Adam Keefe, who had a game-high 11 rebounds.

Mavericks coach Don Nelson, now 1-4 since taking over for Jim Cleamons on Dec. 4, unveiled an excruciating slow-down offense that kept Dallas close but didn’t prevent the Mavs’ fourth straight loss and 16th in their last 18 games.

``It really couldn’t have been executed much better,″ Nelson said of the Mavs’ anti-offense. ``Hey, we’ve only won five games this year, and I thought that this was the only way we could win this game. I was almost right.″

The two teams combined for just seven field goals and 28 points in the fourth quarter. Neither team scored more than 19 points in any quarter or held a lead larger than six points.

``We had no idea that they would do this,″ Utah guard Jeff Hornacek said. ``We just expected a normal game.″

Karl Malone led the Jazz with 23 points, while Michael Finley and Dennis Scott had 21 each for the Mavericks. Shandon Anderson added 13 off the bench for Utah.

The Jazz committed 18 turnovers and shot less than 44 percent, but still collected their seventh straight home win. The Mavericks had just 25 rebounds, one more than their franchise low.

``I don’t think we had a fast break after the first quarter,″ Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. ``They forced us to beat them at their game.″

The Jazz took a 65-64 lead with 2:06 to play on John Stockton’s two free throws. The Mavericks missed two open jumpers on their next two possessions.

With 10.1 seconds to play, Scott, who shot 5-of-5 on 3-pointers, passed up an open shot underneath and the shot clock ran out.

``We executed the game plan exactly,″ Scott said. ``It got down to the last play, and a veteran made a bonehead play and didn’t take a shot.″

Hornacek hit three of four free throws in the final 3.6 seconds to seal the victory.

The Jazz have beaten Dallas 21 straight times in Salt Lake City, including all 16 games the two teams have played at the Delta Center.

Notes: Finley and Hubert Davis played all 48 minutes for Dallas, and Scott played 46 minutes before fouling out in the closing seconds. ... Malone has led the Jazz in scoring in 20 of their first 21 games. ... Utah’s previous low point total was 72 on Nov. 4, 1996, against Houston. ... Mavericks center Shawn Bradley missed his seventh straight game with a torn calf muscle. ... Utah has won 34 of its last 40 games against Dallas. ... After playing 14 of their first 20 games at home, the Mavericks must play on the road in eight of their next 11 games. Dallas hasn’t won away from Reunion Arena since the second game of the season. ... The Jazz begin a five-game Eastern road trip on Monday at Washington. Utah will play the top four teams in the Eastern Conference over a seven-day period during the trip, their longest of the year. ... The Mavericks’ last win in Utah came on Feb. 9, 1989 at the since-demolished Salt Palace.

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