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SCOUTING REPORT

Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz

June 03, 1998|MARK HEISLER

* About the Bulls: After seven games against the Indiana Pacers, what do they have left? If Dennis Rodman goes back into the lineup, they'll start players who are 37, 35, 34 and 32. For all their wiles, they're dependent on Jordan staying at his beyond-superstar level. In last spring's finals, only two Bulls, Jordan (32.3 points) and Scottie Pippen (20) averaged in double figures. They need a big effort from Rodman, but that's a longshot; benched against Indiana for Toni Kukoc, he pouted, did his usual number about the referees being out to get him and averaged only 9.9 rebounds--against Antonio Davis, who isn't quite Karl Malone. Malone is one of those players Rodman has little effect on. Last spring, Malone shot 60% against the Bulls and reduced Rodman to an also-ran who didn't even average eight rebounds.

BULLS STATISTICS

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Player G FG% FT% Pts PPG Reb Ast Jordan 82 .465 .784 2357 28.7 5.8 3.5 Pippen 44 .447 .777 841 19.1 5.2 5.8 Kukoc 74 .455 .708 984 13.3 4.4 4.2 Longley 58 .455 .736 663 11.4 5.9 2.8 Harper 82 .441 .750 764 9.3 3.5 2.9 Kerr 50 .454 .918 376 7.5 1.5 1.9 Burrell 80 .424 .734 416 5.2 2.5 0.8 Rodman 80 .431 .550 375 4.7 15.0 2.9 Brown 71 .384 .718 288 4.1 1.3 2.1 Wennington 48 .436 .810 167 3.5 1.7 0.4 Simpkins 40 .539 .514 132 3.3 1.9 0.8 Buechler 74 .483 .500 198 2.7 1.0 0.7 Team 82 .451 .743 7931 96.7 44.9 23.8 Opponents 82 .431 .729 7348 89.6 39.7 19.5

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About the Jazz: Ask the Lakers, they don't play like old guys even if they have starters who are 36, 35 and 34. Utah is the best, most battle-tested and deepest team the Bulls will have played in six finals--the first opponent they will have played twice, either in the finals or the Eastern finals. Utah's old guys haven't lost much (Malone gained, if anything, playing better than last season when he was the most valuable player), and their young guys, particularly Howard Eisley and Shandon Anderson, who averaged 8.3 and 7.8 points against the Lakers and shot 58% and 54%, respectively, are better. Thanks to the Lakers, the Jazz is on a high--but has been sitting around for 10 days, long enough to lose its edge and flip out Coach Jerry Sloan, who ripped his players in the press in an attempt to get their attention.

JAZZ STATISTICS

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Player G FG% FT% Pts PPG Reb Ast Player G Pct Pct Pts Pts Reb Ast Malone 81 .530 .761 2190 27.0 10.3 3.9 Hornacek 80 .482 .885 1139 14.2 3.4 4.4 Stockton 64 .528 .827 770 12.0 2.6 8.5 Russell 82 .430 .766 738 9.0 4.0 1.2 Anderson 82 .538 .735 681 8.3 3.8 1.1 Keefe 80 .540 .810 620 7.8 5.5 1.1 Eisley 82 .441 .852 633 7.7 2.0 4.2 Carr 66 .465 .776 378 5.7 2.0 0.7 Foster 78 .445 .770 441 5.7 3.5 0.7 Ostertag 63 .481 .479 297 4.7 5.9 0.4 Morris 54 .411 .721 233 4.3 2.1 0.4 Vaughn 45 .361 .706 139 3.1 0.8 1.9 Team 82 .490 .773 8279 101.0 41.1 25.2 Opponents 82 .439 .757 7743 94.4 36.5 20.6

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Keys to the game: Unlike the Lakers, the Bulls' athletic, versatile, dedicated defenders, known for denying opponents their first option, won't swoon before that John Stockton-Malone pick-and-roll. But the name you're about to hear a lot is Brian Williams. Yes, that Brian Williams. Last spring, he averaged 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 20 minutes a game against the Jazz, giving Phil Jackson what he had to have, another big body to throw at Malone.

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Prediction: If the Jazz holds service at home and starts 2-0, it should win. Of course, the Bulls are a great road team. And the only team to hold home-court advantage through the first two games of the finals in the '90s is Chicago. Nevertheless, it looks like the dynasty falls: Jazz 4, Bulls 2.

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