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NBA PLAYOFFS | NOTES

Jackson Recognizes a Big Win

June 12, 1997|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SALT LAKE CITY — The Delta Center and its raucous inhabitants closed for the summer Wednesday night, a strange ending considering it had been home to a dominating run of 23 consecutive victories.

That, of course, was before the Chicago Bulls claimed a 90-88 victory in Game 5 of the NBA finals, sending the best-of-seven series back to the United Center for the final two games. That's if that many are needed, what with the defending champions having regained the momentum.

"As far as big wins," Bull Coach Phil Jackson said, "I think this is as big a win as we've had in a playoff situation."

High praise for a team that has had many.

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A suspension is unlikely but a fine very possible as the NBA is expected to discipline Dennis Rodman, possibly as soon as today, for a series of anti-Mormon obscenities, especially since the series shifted to Utah.

For now, the league will say only that "if the statements are as reported, they are obviously offensive and inexcusable." The church, headquartered a few blocks from the Delta Center, had no comment, but the NAACP has issued a statement condemning Rodman's words.

"We must not allow double standards in the area of bigotry and ignorance," said Jeanetta Williams, president of the Salt Lake City branch.

"Clearly the statements made by Mr. Rodman are considered as offensive against the Mormon church and its members as those made by Fuzzy Zoeller against African-Americans and should be treated as such. At a minimum, a public apology is in order before Dennis Rodman departs the state of Utah."

The Bulls left late Wednesday night. There apparently was no apology.

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Utah's Greg Ostertag had a big night for Utah with 13 points and 15 rebounds, including seven offensive boards.

"He doesn't know how good he can be," teammate Karl Malone said.

The 7-foot-2 Ostertag often finds himself at the receiving end of sharp criticism from Coach Jerry Sloan. Once in the first half, after a lecture from Sloan was punctuated with a couple of expletives, Ostertag came back on the court and promptly scored on an offensive rebound.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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