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Jazz Set for Another Bull Run


CHICAGO — In what was at least a mild surprise for Utah Jazz fans, the sun came up Thursday.

Jazz players were no less dismayed after losing leads of 16 points in the first half and seven in the fourth quarter of Wednesday's pivotal Game 5. Tonight, less than 48 hours later, they'll be in the boiling pot, down 3-2 in the NBA finals, on the Bulls' home court, facing elimination.

"There's a hangover, and I didn't even drink," said Karl Malone, laughing. "It's one of those things, you gotta put it out of your mind.

"In this business, nobody says you can't be down, but you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and get ready to play. You kind of wish the next game came, like, today. But obviously, it don't so you got to think about it till tomorrow."

Traditionalists in a New Age league, Jazz leadership isn't planning any motivational speeches or searching the works of Sun Tsu for the perfect parable.

"You know what?" Malone said. "I'm not saying one damn thing. Really.

"Because it's not about saying anything to anybody right now. We're professional athletes. And the shots might not be there, but if you can't get the effort ready for this--you win, you keep playing for one more game, you lose, you go home--if you can't get that effort right there, I think when it's over with, each guy should say to themselves, 'Shoot, maybe I don't belong in this business.'

"So I'm not going to say one thing and Coach shouldn't have to say anything."

Coach Jerry Sloan has already said something and it wasn't, "Gee, what a bad break we got."

Said Sloan: "I expect them to come and play. That's what this game is all about. If we don't come and compete harder than what we competed last night, then we'll have a very difficult time trying to play them there.

"That's something that's up to them. I can't make guys do anything. I can't drag them back down the floor on defense. . . . They might miss some shots once in a while, I don't have a problem with that, but there's no reason why they can't understand after 109 games that you got to run the floor, that you got to execute."

The Jazz has the never-accomplished-in-the-finals challenge of overcoming a 3-2 lead on its opponent's floor, and this isn't an ordinary opponent.


The Bulls' reserves practiced at the team's Deerfield, Ill., facility, but Coach Phil Jackson gave his regulars the day off, including Michael Jordan, who was ill before Game 5 but turned in a memorable 38-point effort. He spent most of Thursday in bed recovering. "He felt a lot better, his intense headache from yesterday was gone. His nausea from yesterday was gone but he still felt quite drained and fatigued," trainer Chip Schaefer told the Associated Press. Jordan is expected to be ready for tonight's game.


Almost as impressive as Jordan's play on offense has been the ability of the Bulls' defense to shut opponents down for long stretches. In Game 5, they held the Jazz to two baskets in the last eight minutes.

Of those, one was Stockton's three-point basket, after picking up a loose ball, tipped away when the Bulls broke up the play the Jazz was trying to run.

The other was Greg Ostertag's lightly contested dunk, with the Bulls leading by three points and six seconds left.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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