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NBA PLAYOFFS | NOTES

Finally, Foster Gets a Measure of Revenge

June 07, 1997|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER and MARK HEISLER | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

SALT LAKE CITY — More than getting 17 points and six rebounds, more than getting part of the spotlight as the Utah Jazz beat the Chicago Bulls on Friday night in Game 3 of the NBA finals, Greg Foster got his revenge.

So what that he got cut by the Bulls in 1994-95, two teams and about seven basketball lives ago. It still hurts.

"You ever got hit in the stomach with a bat?" he said, trying to explain the feeling.

Meet his chance to hit back.

"To see him out there kicking our butts hurts," said Jud Buechler, a Chicago reserve. "It really hurts."

Foster, who started his college career at UCLA before transferring to Texas El Paso, got 15 of his points in the first half, helping the Jazz to a 61-45 lead.

"I'll tell you what," he said. "It felt good. It felt real good. And I'll leave it like that."

*

Carrying on a Jazz tradition, Karl Malone continues to downplay the significance of the cut on his shooting hand, even as he privately tells team personnel the deep floor burn that won't heal is bothersome.

"It's fine," Malone said the other day, after initially rolling his eyes at getting the same question for the umpteenth time.

It's also not unlike last year, when John Stockton was clearly less than 100%.

Then and now, players refuse to acknowledge the injury, lest anyone think they were making excuses.

"As long as a guy puts his uniform on, he's not injured," Jerry Sloan said.

"It's simple. I've always said if you're going to be man enough to put it on and go play. Why talk about it? It always kind of aggravated [me] that people would talk about their injuries when they come to play. If you're hurt, that's one thing. [But] they're looking for edge. I don't want my players to do that.

"You're begging for an edge in case you fail. That's the biggest problem. That's what they all look for--'In case I don't play well, I want everybody to know I'm injured.'

"He [Malone] is a big man, he is a strong man, he's always stood up to those things. . . We know what's going on, and we don't make a big deal out of it. It's all [garbage]. We got so many sideshows, we can't just go play the same. If a guy doesn't play well, he goes home. And if he plays well, go home anyway. That's the way I look at it."

One problem is, the Bulls look at it a different way. Some of their players have noticed blood on their uniforms and presume it came from the cut that keeps opening. That means Malone should be coming out to get it covered.

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Chicago's Scottie Pippen tied a finals record by making seven three-point baskets. Kenny Smith of the Houston Rockets also made seven in Game 1 of the 1995 championship series.

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