Game 3: Chicago 108, at Seattle 86
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"You knew Michael was going to come out with a big game sooner or later, and everything was rolling for him."
-- Scottie Pippen

The Seattle SuperSonics' uphill battle just got a whole lot steeper, while the Chicago Bulls will be putting their champagne on ice after a decisive 108-86 victory in Game 3 gave the Bulls a 3-0 lead in the 1996 NBA Finals. No team has ever came back to win an NBA Championship after being down 0-3.
"This was a spectacular game for our team," said Chicago coach Phil Jackson.

Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman go up for an offensive rebound.


"It was very refreshing to see the Chicago Bulls finally bust out," said Dennis Rodman, "and when that happens, no one can beat us."
The Bulls, now a record 14-1 in the playoffs this year, continued their overall dominance on the road in the Finals, which began with three straight victories in their first championship season in 1991 against the L.A. Lakers. Chicago is now 9-1 on the road in the Finals (6-4 at home) and has not lost a Finals game on the road since Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers back in 1992.
"When we're on the road, we become a little more focused," said Michael Jordan. "There are fewer distractions when you're away from your family and all the ticket requests. It's good to be on the road, to bond together and play better."
Led by a series-high 36 points by Jordan, the Bulls came out charging from the opening tap and, despite a lull in the third quarter, never looked back.
"I thought we might be giving it away in the third quarter," said Jordan, "but we took the crowd out of the game early and took away their momentum."
With Toni Kukoc starting in the place of Ron Harper, who played only one minute due to an injured knee, the Bulls scored the first seven points of the game and led by as many as 22 points in the first quarter. Luc Longley, playing his best game of the series, also came out strong in the quarter, contributing eight points, while Kukoc made the most of his start by adding seven of his own. The Sonics were only able to score 16 points in the quarter, which ended with the Bulls up by 18, 34-16.
Seattle managed to chip away at the Bulls' lead in the second quarter, getting it down to 11 behind eight points by Detlef Schrempf, but then Jordan took over with 15 consecutive second-quarter points. Seattle's first half play was sloppy, with 12 turnovers compared to Chicago's three, and the Sonics were 0-for-8 from three-point range in the first 24 minutes.
"You knew Michael was going to come out with a big game sooner or later, " said Scottie Pippen, "and everything was rolling for him."
"We got hit with a great defensive performance early," said Seattle coach George Karl, "and then Michael started doing his thing."

Chicago's tough defense held Shawn Kemp 16 points below his series average.


The Sonics, however, came back after the half determined not to go down without a struggle, while the Bulls, perhaps lulled by their large lead, had some turnover problems of their own. Seattle outscored the Bulls 14-4 to lead off the second half , as the Sonics' tenacious defense took the Bulls completely out of their rhythm. Seattle outscored Chicago 23-13 in the third quarter, cutting the Bulls' lead down to 12 and ending the quarter at 75-61. Jordan, so hot in the second quarter, came up with only two points in the third, as the Bulls shot 6-for-19. Seattle was led in its comeback attempt by nine points by Hersey Hawkins and six by Shawn Kemp.
But the Bulls returned to form in the fourth quarter, with Jordan scoring a quick five points in the opening minutes, and the lead was back up to 20 by the 10-minute mark. Pippen, who collected 12 points and nine assists in the game, hit a key three with two seconds remaining on the shot clock to put the Bulls up 87-65 and deflate the Sonics for good.
Longley scored a career playoff-high 19 points for the Bulls, while Kukoc contributed 14 points and seven assists. Schrempf was high scorer for the Sonics with 20 points, followed by Gary Payton with 19 and nine assists.

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