SEATTLE -- It didn't seem likely the Seattle SuperSonics would get another chance to play in Salt Lake City.
Considered all but dead after two woeful performances at Utah, the Sonics are headed back there for a deciding Game 5 in their first-round playoff series with the Jazz.
Gary Payton had his first career playoff triple-double with 35 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, while Rashard Lewis had 20 points and Vin Baker added 18 as the Sonics made it two straight wins at home with a 104-93 victory Wednesday night.
''If we play like this again Friday night, we'll be OK,'' Payton said after setting a career playoff high with the 35 points. ''Everybody is playing well for us. It's a lot easier when everybody is playing well.''
Game 5 will be Friday night and the winner moves on to face Portland in a best-of-seven second-round series that begins Sunday in Portland. The Trail Blazers wrapped up their first playoff series against Minnesota in four games Tuesday night.
''This team has not played it's best game yet,'' Brent Barry of the Sonics said. ''In order to win Game 5, we're going to have to.''
The Sonics held Utah to seven points on 3-for-21 shooting in the second quarter, but the Jazz came back to get within two points with 7:16 left. But Payton helped the Sonics pull away again as he had 15 points in the final period.
''We were executing pretty well in the first quarter,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. ''All of a sudden, we quit executing in the second quarter.''
Byron Russell led the Jazz with 26 points, while Karl Malone had 23 points and 14 rebounds.
In an emotional fourth quarter when Malone and Sloan were both ejected after receiving their second technical fouls, Jeff Hornacek hit a 3-pointer to cut Seattle's lead to 82-80.
But the Sonics got two foul shots from Payton with 6:50 to go and the 20-year-old Lewis made another free throw before Greg Ostertag of the Jazz made a free throw with 5:45 left to make it 85-81.
Payton then hit a 3-pointer, Lewis made a 5-footer and then another free throw and Seattle had a 91-81 lead with 4:15 left.
Sloan was thrown out with 1:11 left and Malone was ejected with 24 seconds to play. Malone departed after a jawing match with Payton, when Payton also was called for a technical.
The Jazz were whistled for six technicals, all in the second half and four in the last 3:40 of the game. Ostertag and Hornacek also received technicals.
''No, we didn't lose our composure,'' Malone said. ''I don't regret anything that happened. But if we would have had this intensity in Game 3, we would have won that one.''
Payton wouldn't reveal the details of what he and Malone said in their exchange before Malone left for the locker room.
''What we had to say to each other, that's between him and me,'' Payton said. ''If he wants to carry it over to Game 5, that's OK with me. Me and him have never got at it like that before.''
Sonics coach Paul Westphal took a shot at the way the Jazz play.
''They know how to flop and make it look worse than it is,'' he said. ''When I got old as a player, I played that way, too.''
With Payton sitting on the bench with four fouls, the Jazz cut Seattle's lead to 78-71 over the final 3:26 of the third quarter.
The Sonics, whose biggest lead was 65-48 with 6:51 left in the third quarter, were up 73-61 when Payton went to the bench and was replaced by Shammond Williams.
The Jazz's horrible shooting in the second quarter helped the Sonics to a 50-36 halftime lead as they outscored Utah 24-7 in the second period.
Down by as many as eight points in the first quarter, the Sonics scored the first 10 points of the second quarter. Baker opened up the period with two baskets, Payton followed with two more and Barry drove in for a layup to give Seattle a 36-29 lead 2:57 into the quarter.
Notes: In the second quarter, the Jazz went more than five minutes between baskets. After Scott Padgett's 3-pointer with 5:59 to go in the period, Utah didn't score again until Malone's 15-footer with 37 seconds remaining in the first half. ... The seven points scored by the Jazz in the second quarter were a team low in a period by Utah in the playoffs. And the seven points also were a Sonics' opponents' low for a quarter in the playoffs. ... Utah and Seattle have split their eight games this season. ... Payton also had a career playoff high six steals. His 10 rebounds tied his career playoff high. ... Seattle's starters provided 95 of its points.
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.