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"The best pure
point guard
who ever
the game"

Milestone: Steals

» Steve Luhm / Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY _ Already the NBA's Man of Deal, John Stockton became the Man of Steal Tuesday night at the Delta Center.

Stockton had two steals in the Jazz's lopsided 112-98 victory over Boston, giving him 2,311 in his career and making him professional basketball's all-time leader.

Just over a year ago, Stockton passed Magic Johnson to become the NBA's all-time assist leader.

This time, Stockton passed Maurice Cheeks as the league's most prolific thief. He did it with 8:41 left in the fourth quarter.

Celtics rookie Eric Williams was maneuvering on the low post, but Stockton slid off his man, knocked the ball loose and recovered it in the corner.

When he did, Stockton added to his Hall of Fame resume by passing Cheeks in the 949th game of his career. Playing mostly for the Philadelphia 76ers, Cheeks needed 1,101 games to establish the previous record. “It was a pretty neat feeling,” said Stockton. “... It was kind of fun.”

The Jazz had built a 91-59 lead over the cold-shooting Celtics heading into the fourth quarter.

Stockton was on the bench at the time, but Jazz coach Jerry Sloan stuck with his normal rotation and put him back in the game.

“I wasn't trying to embarrass anybody,” Sloan said.

In that regard, the Celtics helped.

Boston outscored the Jazz 13-4 at the start of the period, cut the deficit to 95-72 and set the stage for Stockton.

Was it destiny?

One possession before breaking Cheeks' record, Stockton was fouled in the backcourt. He fired the ball at the basket anyway and - from 60 feet - the ball swished through.

It didn't count, of course, but the play got the crowd's attention. Seconds later, Stockton stole the ball from Williams.

“I was just glad to see John get it behind him,” said Sloan. “He doesn't like those things, but that's part of being a good player. And he's certainly been that.”

Said Stockton: “They threw it into the post and I took a swipe at it. I didn't think going down, `This is it.' I just took a swipe at it and got the ball loose. Then I just tried to recover it and go from there.”

Stockton entered the game needing just one steal to tie Cheeks. That one came with 5:10 left in the first half.

Boston center Eric Montross put the ball on the floor, and Stockton managed to flip it away from him. Antoine Carr saved the ball back to Stockton just before falling out of bounds.

For good measure, Stockton added a team record to his list of accomplishments just before halftime when he buried a 3-pointer. It was No. 531 of his career, moving him past Darrell Griffith atop the Jazz's all-time three-point list.

“Darrell was a great player,” said Stockton. “. . . I'm just glad they moved the line in.”

It was that kind of night for the Jazz, who won their ninth straight over Boston dating back to Nov. 16, 1990.

When Stockton broke Cheeks' record, the Celtics were gracious victims.

Coach M.L. Carr called Stockton “the epitome of class.”

Jazz 112, Celtics 98

Boston (98) - Fox 5-6 0-0 14, Radja 5-12 0-0 10, Montross 2-5 0-1 4, Minor 6-11 2-4 15, Wesley 4-11 2-3 10, Williams 3-8 4-6 10, Brown 3-8 4-4 10, Ellison 0-1 0-0 0, Lister 1-3 2-2 4, Barros 7-11 0-0 16, Day 2-4 0-0 5, Burrough 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 38-82 14-22 98.

Utah (112) - Benoit 5-11 1-1 14, Malone 10-11 3-4 24, Spencer 3-5 0-2 6, Hornacek 3-10 0-0 8, Stockton 2-4 1-1 6, Eisley 1-3 1-1 3, Ostertag 1-3 0-0 2, Morris 2-8 0-2 5, Carr 6-8 3-5 15, Keefe 3-7 7-8 13, Foster 8-10 0-0 16, Russell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 44-82 16-24 112.

Boston 24 19 16 39 - 98

Utah 29 32 30 21 - 112

3-Point goals-Boston 8-13 (Fox 4-4, Barros 2-2, Minor 1-2, Day 1-2, Wesley 0-2, Brown 0-1), Utah 8-19 (Benoit 3-6, Hornacek 2-5, Stockton 1-2, Morris 1-3, Malone 1-1, Foster 0-1, Russell 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Boston 46 (Radja 9), Utah 52 (Benoit 8). Assists-Boston 20 (Radja, Wesley 3), Utah 33 (Stockton 14). Total fouls-Boston 23, Utah 19. A-19,911 (19,911).


Utah Jazz guard John Stockton, right, looks to pass against pressure from Dallas Mavericks guard Steve Nash during an April game in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)

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