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NBA PLAYOFFS | NOTES

Malone Gets It Right Second Time Around

June 09, 1997|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SALT LAKE CITY — Game on the line. Karl Malone at the line.

Flashbacks, anyone?

One week earlier, on a Sunday in Chicago, he attempted two free throws with 9.2 seconds left, missed both, and opened the door for Michael Jordan to win the game at the buzzer. This time, in the more supportive confines of the Delta Center, he was fouled with 18 seconds left and his Utah Jazz clinging to a 74-73 lead.

"I normally think about far away places," Malone said, "but this time I thought about 650 million people watching again."

And wondering.

This time was also different in that he made both, becoming a hero even beyond the 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the 78-73 victory for the Jazz that evened the NBA finals at 2-2.

"I'm not going to lie to you," Malone said. "That's what I thought about the whole time I was shooting. And then my coach iced me. My coach called timeout."

Jerry Sloan did, indeed, calling Malone and all the Jazz to the sideline between free throws to set up the defense for the final Bull run by replacing Antoine Carr with Chris Morris for better quickness.

"I kept looking over at the Chicago Bulls bench and thought it was them," Malone said. "But it was Coach Sloan."

Undaunted, he returned to the line and made the second.

"You guys called it 'redeemed' and all that, but as a player, when all goes well, you sometimes wish you'd have another opportunity in a similar situation," Malone said. "Sometimes you never get it. And I was able to."

*

Location, location, location: A large part of the Jazz' homecourt success is due to the Delta Center itself as much as the 19,911 who pack the building every game. So say the Bulls.

"I think it's intimidating for referees, simply by the proximity of the baseline stands," Chicago Coach Phil Jackson said. "I think it's one of the most intimidating places to referee in. That's why I was kind of amazed a guy like Jack Nies, the first time he's ever refereed a finals game was there [Friday] night. Hue Hollins, who has not had a good history with Chicago, was there [Friday] night.

"Some of those things. It was a curiosity factor for me, especially coming to Utah where you've got to have guys who can really stand up, be strong."

*

Dennis Rodman, assigned to Malone as expected, at least showed some life, getting his first technical of the series, but Jackson still played him only 25 minutes. That was long enough for Rodman to get six rebounds and four fouls. "I thought Dennis was much more involved tonight," Jackson said. "Offensively, he didn't contribute. But defensively I thought he did a fine job. There were some situations I thought he got over-excited about. We like that." . . . The Jazz was again without backup small forward Shandon Anderson, who had returned to his native Atlanta following the death of his father. Sunday marked the second consecutive game he missed. Anderson's availability for Game 5 on Wednesday is uncertain.

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