LANDOVER -- The Utah Jazz are playing in a new arena in Salt Lake City this season, but would be just as happy to play all its games at the friendly Capital Centre.
Utah recorded its eighth straight victory here last night, using the clutch shooting of former Bullets guard Jeff Malone and timely rebounding to defeat Washington, 107-98.
The Bullets (4-6), who last beat the Jazz in Utah in 1987, were in excellent position to extend their two-game winning streak. They closed within a point four times in the fourth quarter, but never made the crucial shot.
Usually, it has been power forward Karl Malone and point guard John Stockton who have tormented the Bullets. But last night, Utah's two All-NBA performers shot a combined 8-for-29 from the field.
Karl Malone, restricted to 38 minutes because of early foul trouble, scored 22 points, eight below his season average. Stockton had trouble shooting all night, but did manage 12 assists.
But the Bullets could not stop Jeff Malone, who still possesses his silky jump shot, and is being more aggressive in attacking the basket than in his seven Washington seasons.
Malone made 13 of 21 shots to finish with 28 points, a number coming on change-of-pace drives.
"We had another guy to stop besides Stockton and Karl Malone," said Bullets coach Wes Unseld. "And we just didn't do a good defensive job on Jeff Malone. He's still a great shooter."
Someone suggested that Jeff Malone now has less pressure playing with two of the NBA's superstars. Said Unseld: "Jeff played with Moses Malone and Bernard King here. He didn't have any more pressure back then."
A lot of visiting players complain about the lighting at the Capital Centre, but not Malone.
"Hey, it is kind of dark, but remember I scored over 11,000 points playing here," he said. "It can't be that bad."
It was the Bullets, still minus consistent scorers Harvey Grant (foot) and Ledell Eackles (groin), who had trouble locating the basket. They shot 40 percent from the field and got but six points from the bench.
Michael Adams again led the team in scoring, but only five of his 27 points came in the last 12 minutes.
The Bullets had many opportunities to claim the lead in the fourth quarter, but were victimized by mistakes.
"We didn't play very smart basketball," Unseld said. "We were quick shooting or turning the ball over without them really contesting us."
Washington was still very much alive, trailing, 100-96, when Pervis Ellison (23 points, 13 rebounds) made a layup with 1 minute, 40 seconds left.
But Utah reserve Mike Brown powered his way to the basket for a basket and Karl Malone swiped the ball from Adams. He converted one of two free throws for a 103-96 spread with 1:04 to play, and the Bullets did not threaten again.
"With a team like Utah, you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get," said Ellison. "We missed a lot of shots down the stretch, and we were posting up instead of moving the ball."
The Jazz did a much better job of it down the stretch, getting two clutch baskets from small forward Blue Edwards after the Bullets twice had crept within a point, and a strong off-the-bench effort from Brown (13 points, seven rebounds).
The Bullets, 1-4 at home, return to action tomorrow night when they entertain the Seattle SuperSonics.