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NBA PLAYOFFS | NOTES

Pippen Status Still Questionable

June 01, 1997|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | From Staff and Wire Reports

Scottie Pippen on Saturday sat out practice for the second consecutive day, hoping rest will allow his sore left foot to heal enough so he can play tonight in the first game of the NBA finals.

"I don't know if I'm going to [play]," said Pippen, the Chicago Bulls' all-star small forward. "It's tough to say now. I have to wait and see how it feels."

If Game 1 had been Saturday, Pippen said he didn't think he could have played.

The soft-tissue injury on the bottom of his left foot is not regarded as serious--tests have ruled out any bone or muscle damage--but it is painful. He played only seven minutes last Wednesday in the series-clinching victory over the Miami Heat, though that was partly because he wasn't needed.

"If I'm able to run in a position where I'm not really putting much strain on it, I should be fine," Pippen said. "But if I make any type of cuts or anything of that nature, then it really puts a lot of pressure on it."

If Pippen doesn't start, Toni Kukoc will. That would make Jud Buechler, averaging the second-fewest minutes on the team in the playoffs, the backup small forward.

*

Utah's controversial screens, the regular target of criticism by the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals, have become the fuel. Dennis Rodman is the flame. It doesn't take a hair dresser to know what could happen next.

"That's a concern to us, as far as his retaliation," Bull Coach Phil Jackson said. "The fact is, Dennis just doesn't go idly into the night. He will make you pay for anything that happens to him. That's one of the things we've asked [of] him, not to retaliate if he gets an illegal pick or if [John] Stockton comes up from behind him and surprises him."

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