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NBA PLAYOFFS

Game Report

June 12, 1997|ARA NAJARIAN

FIRST QUARTER

CHICAGO: 16

UTAH: 29

* IN REVIEW: Michael Jordan has "flu-like" symptoms that are obvious. He made his first shot, but the next time down he was stripped of the ball. Then the whole team looked sick. Scottie Pippen tried to get to the hoop but was roughed up without a call several times. On the other end, the Bulls weren't roughing up the Jazz in any way. Karl Malone scored in the lane and on jumpers to lead the precise Utah offense. John Stockton's drive to the basket past Ron Harper had a finish on it that had to make Chicago worry. The Bulls were never in sync on either end: Utah went on a 12-0 run with three minutes left and led by as many as 16. When Stockton and Jeff Hornacek went to the bench, Howard Eisley, Antoine Carr and Chris Morris kept up the momentum. Carr is starting to look to the Jazz like M.L. Carr did to the Celtics of the '80s. His enthusiasm off he bench is as important as his timely baskets. That and opposing fans dislike him for unabashed cheering. Jordan, despite looking tired, was not given a first-quarter rest.

* BULL LEADING SCORER: Brian Williams 5

* JAZZ LEADING SCORER: Karl Malone 9

SECOND QUARTER

CHICAGO: 49

UTAH: 53

* IN REVIEW: Jordan's lack of rest helped him find a second wind. Of course, it's easier to find a second wind when Karl Malone is not in your way. Malone picked up his third foul--a foolish foul after a foolish shot--and the Bulls' comeback was on. Jordan scored in every way, on the drive and from the outside, but mostly from the free throw line. Jordan had 16 points in the quarter, including eight from the line. Pippen asserted himself as well by taking the ball to the basket and being a presence on defense. All of a sudden the breaks were going the Bulls' way. They even started making the extra pass instead of standing around and watching Jordan. With Malone on the bench, Chicago pressured the Jazz guards effectively. The Bulls used a 13-2 run that eventually led to a a couple of brief leads. However, the Bulls virtually gave away the last four points on a turnover and a ridiculous loose-ball foul.

* BULL LEADING SCORER: Michael Jordan 17.

* JAZZ LEADING SCORER: Malone, Carr and Greg Ostertag 4.

THIRD QUARTER

CHICAGO: 67

UTAH: 72

* IN REVIEW: Jerry Sloan yelled at his players at halftime, but it wasn't as effective as Jordan resting for nearly four minutes in the quarter. Malone returned to the game after sitting the first few minutes of the quarter on the bench, but he was not a consistent force. Ostertag was perhaps Utah's best player. He finished the quarter with total of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Although the Jazz never seemed to be playing well, its scrappiness was vital. Offensive rebounds gave Utah nearly two full minutes of possession in the middle of the quarter. However, the Jazz was not able to score during that span. Steve Kerr and Stockton started getting physical, and Kerr actually seemed to be choking Stockton at one point. Malone picked up his fourth foul with a minute left. Jordan went to the bench with 2:15 left after scoring only two points in the quarter.

FINAL

CHICAGO: 90

UTAH: 88

* BULL LEADING SCORER: Pippen, Luc Longley 6.

* JAZZ LEADING SCORER: Brian Russell 6.

* IN REVIEW: Malone started the quarter on the bench with his four fouls. Jordan was back in with his tongue hanging out--wait a second, his tongue is always out when he's playing well. Bad news for Utah. Jordan scored seven of Chicago's first nine points to open the quarter, including a three-pointer to tie the game at 77-77. His next jumper gave Chicago a lead at 8:40. But the Jazz would not go away. The score was tied, 81-81, for more than two minutes when Stockton made a three-point shot from nearly 30 feet out with three minutes left that looked familiar to Jazz fans. Thirty seconds later, Dennis Rodman fouled out with his fourth phantom call. It looked good for the Jazz. But then Utah's leaders couldn't finish. Stockton missed his next three-point attempt and Malone shot an airball. Jordan missed a free throw, but Kukoc rebounded and Jordan made a three-pointer before Utah's defense could rotate to give the Bulls an 88-85 lead with 25 seconds left. The Bulls let Ostertag dunk and regained possession to wait for the foul, but it never came. Malone would have fouled out by fouling Pippen and chose not to. The Bulls passed the ball downcourt quickly to Luc Longley for a dunk. Utah missed two three-point attempts before Stockton drew a foul with 0.2 seconds left. He would have had to make the first and hope for a miracle rebound and tip-in on the second, but he missed the first.

* BULL LEADING SCORER: Jordan 15.

* JAZZ LEADING SCORER: Stockton 4.

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