SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- When Utah won convincingly in the first two games against Seattle, it seemed no stretch to think the Jazz would make short work of the SuperSonics.
John Stockton knew better.
''After Game 2, they were reeling a little bit,'' Stockton said. ''They didn't quite know what it was that made them a good team, but they figured it out early in the third game.
Instead of crawling away, the Sonics made it an outstanding first-round series. It wasn't over until Karl Malone scored 27 points as the Jazz beat Seattle 96-93 Friday night to win the best-of-five series 3-2.
''They were a good team throughout the rest of the series, so we feel very fortunate to win,'' Stockton said.
Next up for Utah is a rematch with Portland in the Western Conference semifinals. The Trail Blazers, who eliminated the Jazz in six games last season, will be home for Game 1 on Sunday.
The Jazz beat the Sonics by playing solid at both ends, bearing no resemblance to the fractured, bickering bunch that unraveled in the fourth quarter Wednesday night in Game 4 at Seattle.
In that game, Malone became embroiled in a shouting match with Gary Payton in the closing minutes. Malone was ejected after a technical foul, and Payton rubbed it in by hitting a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer.
''We talked before the game,'' said Payton, who scored 27 against the Jazz. ''Everybody just put it out of proportion. Me and Karl are competitors. Me and Karl are really tight. It wasn't anything really big.''
Jazz fans welcomed Payton by booing and chanting ''Ga-ry, Ga-ry'' almost every time he touched the ball.
Utah came out focused this time and maintained the intensity all night, even when Seattle trimmed a 13-point deficit to one several times in the fourth quarter.
Stockton hit two free throws with 9 seconds remaining to preserve the lead. He was fouled while saving a ball that was whizzed in his direction by Greg Ostertag.
''That was a little scary,'' Stockton said. ''I was just trying to keep it in play. He hummed it.''
Seattle closed to 94-93 when Payton flipped in a runner in the lane with 25 seconds to play. The Sonics got a final chance after Stockton's free throws, but Chuck Person's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
''I'd bet on him anytime,'' Seattle coach Paul Westphal said. ''He's a money shooter. He's made a lot of those in his career. He gave it a good ride and it just didn't go in.''
Bryon Russell scored 16 points for Utah and helped limit Payton to 27 after he scored 35 in Game 4. Jeff Hornacek scored 14 for the Jazz and extended his 14-year NBA career by at least a few more weeks.
Olden Polynice, aside from missing two late free throws, had a big game for the Jazz. He scored 13, including a three-point play with 5:41 remaining to give Utah an 86-83 lead and an emotional burst.
''That was the only way we were going to win, to get everyone involved,'' Polynice said. ''When we get away from a team concept, as we did the other night in Seattle, we're not going to win.''
But Polynice made it interesting. He kept the Sonics alive with 30.8 seconds remaining when, with the Jazz trying to extend a 94-91 lead, he missed two free throws -- shooting an airball on the second.
''I was mad at myself,'' Polynice said. ''I had the opportunity to seal it and I didn't capitalize.''
Rashard Lewis scored 20 points and Vin Baker 17 for the Sonics.
Notes: Utah coach Jerry Sloan passed Lenny Wilkens for sixth place on the NBA's career list with 73 playoff victories. Sloan moved into fifth on the list of playoffs games coached with 139, passing K.C. Jones. ... Malone exchanged words with some courtside Sonics fans after going after a loose ball late in the first half. One fan held Malone when he tried to get up. ... Jazz forward Adam Keefe missed the series after straining his right hamstring during warmups for Game 1.
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