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Best in the West? It's the Utah Jazz, but just barely.

Donyell Marshall and Karl Malone each scored 22 points as Utah moved ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers for the best winning percentage in the Western Conference with a 90-84 victory Thursday night.

John Stockton added 18 points for the Jazz (36-16), which won its fourth straight and ninth in 10 games. Utah, which leads the Midwest Division, is one one-thousandth of a percentage point ahead of Pacific-leading Portland (38-17).

"Everybody might want to say that this was just another game, but this was a huge win for us," said Malone, whose team had lost four straight at Portland. "Those guys have had our number here, and to come in to this playoff intensity and get a win was huge."

Marshall, acquired in a trade from Golden State, has increased his scoring to 18.5 in his last six games. Since moving him into the starting lineup following a five-game losing streak in late December and early January, Utah is 16-3.

"When I was coming off the bench, I was pressing to do something spectacular, and I was messing up too much," Marshall said.

Scottie Pippen, who missed 18 games with an injured right elbow, returned and scored four points on 1-of-4 shooting in 20 minutes.

Damon Stoudamire missed all seven of his shots and was held scoreless for the first time this season.

Kings top short-handed Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards tried to be professional about it, even though leading scorer Juwan Howard and five other teammates weren't there.

But the distraction was impossible to ignore. Minutes after one of the biggest trades in franchise history, the undermanned Wizards had to play Sacramento. They kept it close, but the Kings controlled the game virtually from the start and won, 115-110.

"You've still got to go out and play. We wish it was under better circumstances," said guard Mitch Richmond, his voice trailing off as he shook his head. "We never thought in a million years it would be Juwan."

Doug Christie matched his season-high with 32 points, and Vlade Divac added 27 points and a season-high six blocks in the first game of a three-game East Coast road trip for the Kings.

With Howard, Calvin Booth and Obinna Ekezie sent to Dallas, Washington also waived Felipe Lopez, Gerard King and rookie Mike Smith and activated Leron Profit. This left the Wizards with just eight players in uniform. They also placed malcontent point guard Rod Strickland on the injured list with sore hamstrings.

Around the rim

David Wesley hit a three-pointer with 17 seconds left to lift the Hornets to a 93-91 victory over the Warriors, giving Paul Silas his 100th coaching victory with Charlotte. . . . Jeff McInnis had 17 points and six assists to lead the Clippers to their third straight victory, 93-90, over the Bulls. . . . Dirk Nowitzki's 23 points powered the Mavericks to a 98-91 win over the Celtics. . . . Suns forward Cliff Robinson pleaded innocent Thursday to charges of driving under the influence and two traffic offenses. Robinson was arrested early Feb. 5 in Scottsdale. . . . The league fined Pacers guard Reggie Miller $5,000 for directing an obscene gesture toward a fan Sunday in a home win over the Lakers.

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