Game 4: at Seattle 107, Chicago 86
Sonic Pride Game Story | Box Score | Notes
Quotes: Bulls | Sonics
Game 4 Theater: Video, Audio & Photos!
Play of the Game
McMillan's return sparks win
Kemp continues playoff run
Seattle shows heart
Steve Jones analyzes Game 4
"They came out and played a fine game tonight. Everything we did Sunday they matched today...We'll have to make some adjustments for the fifth game."
-- Phil Jackson
The Chicago Bulls' coronation will have to wait.
"We played our basketball for 48 minutes, and that's what you have to do to win a championship," said Seattle's Shawn Kemp, who led the Sonics with 25 points (12-for-17). "We have to come out Friday with the same energy and intensity, and we'll get the same result. The last thing you want to do is get to the championship series and not win a game."
"When you have your back against the wall and everyone thinks you're out of it, it's easier to play loose," said Seattle's Hersey Hawkins.
The Sonics were sparked by the performance of Nate McMillan, who had been limited to only six minutes in Game 1 due to a lower back problem (sciatic nerve) and had not played in either Game 2 or 3 because of the injury. McMillan played 14 minutes, totaling 8 points and 3 assists and providing a huge emotional lift for his teammates.
"Nate told me he wanted to try to play," said Seattle coach George Karl. "I know he can't play a lot of minutes, but he was fantastic."
"Nate's our inspirational leader," said Hawkins. "I don't think anyone wanted to win this game more than he did."
Seattle's road to the title is still a difficult one. No team in the history of the NBA Finals has ever come back to win the title after being down 0-3. Since the league began in 1946-47, nine teams have gone up 3-0 in the championship series. In 1946-47, the Philadelphia Warriors were up 3-0 against the Chicago Stags and won the title in five games. In 1948-49, the Minneapolis Lakers were up 3-0 against Washington (Capitols) and won the title in six games. And in 1950-51, the Rochester Royals were up 3-0 against the New York Knicks and were forced to Game 7 before winning the championship. But the Sonics took the first step in the right direction.
"They came out and played a fine game tonight," said Chicago coach Phil Jackson. "Everything we did Sunday they matched today...We'll have to make some adjustments for the fifth game. "
It was a different Sonics team that showed up for Game 4. Seattle jumped out to an early lead behind 8 points by Gary Payton, who played by far his best game of the series, and 6 by both Shawn Kemp and Hersey Hawkins in the first quarter. It was the first time the Sonics had led Chicago since the third quarter of Game 2, and Seattle ended the quarter with a 25-21 lead.
Seattle's success continued in the second quarter, as the Bulls seemed to lack their usual focus, committing an uncharacteristic 11 turnovers to Seattle's 5 in the first half alone. The Sonics' outside shooting, which had been all but absent, returned when it was needed most. Payton, 1-for-10 from downtown in the first three games of the series, hit 3 of his first six attempts from long range in Game 4. As a team, the Sonics were 6-of-12 from behind the line in the first half, while the Bulls hit only 1-of-8.
A second-quarter run put the Sonics up 53-32 at the half, as Seattle outscored Chicago 28-11. The Bulls' previous largest deficit in the playoffs had come in Game 2 against Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals, where they trailed by 18 before rallying to win the game.
Payton led the way for the Sonics in the first half with 13 points and 6 assists, followed by Detlef Schrempf with 9 points. For the Bulls, Luc Longley scored 10 points (4-for-5) in the half, followed by a quiet 7 by Michael Jordan (3-for-9).
The veteran Bulls, however, were not quite ready to throw in the towel. Chicago started the second half with a 11-2 run, but the Sonics were able to withstand every effort made by the three-time champions, which included 11 points by Jordan and 9 by Toni Kukoc. Seattle continued the onslaught of the second quarter behind 11 points by Shawn Kemp, and the Sonics were able to maintain their 21-point lead for a score of 84-63 through three quarters and coasted to the 21-point win. Payton finished the game with 21 points and 11 assists for the Sonics, while Jordan led the Bulls with 23 on a night when he shot only 6-for-19.
It was a night when the Sonics appeared to be unbeatable. After having shot only 41% in the first three games of the Finals, Seattle was 56.2% from the field and a blistering 52.9% from three-point range (9-for-17). The Bulls shot 40% from the field and were 6-for-24 (25%) from long range. "We're in the same position on Friday that we were tonight," said Karl. "We just have to play one game at a time. It will be a battle."
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