Hawk: Unsung Hero
Game 5 Buzz
Steve Jones analyzes Game 5
"Their team has a lot of class, they're not just going to die. We're just going to go to Chicago and take our chances."
-- Hersey Hawkins
The Seattle SuperSonics may have won Game 4 for pride.
But they won a tightly-contested Game 5
by a score of 89-78 Friday night in Seattle to show that the 1996 NBA Finals are far from over. The Sonics are not going to meekly hand the Bulls their fourth championship in six years; Chicago is going to have to earn it.
Despite his painful injury, Nate McMillan was able to provide an emotional lift for the Sonics through his play.
"I think tonight's game was the biggest test this basketball team has had, and men showed up. It was a great day for me," said Seattle coach George Karl, whose 90-year-old father made a rare appearance at the game as an early Father's Day surprise for his son. "We now know how to beat them, and we know we have to do some things even better in Chicago."
A 11-0 run by the Sonics in the fourth quarter put the Bulls away on what was a poor shooting night for a frustrated Chicago team. Before Scottie Pippen (14 points, 5-for-20) hit a three in the closing moments of the game, the Bulls had missed 20 in a row from long range and ended up shooting 11.5% from three-point range (3-for-26). Michael Jordan, who led the Bulls with 26 points on 11-for-22 shooting, scored only 2 points in the fourth quarter, and Seattle took advantage of every miscue by the Bulls and was able to take control of the game when it appeared up for grabs. Seattle led by as many as 13 with 3:14 remaining, and despite a final run by the Bulls which cut the lead to 84-78 with just under two minutes left in the game, the Sonics were able to hold on to their lead and come away with the victory.
"We're going to go back to Chicago and play them tough," said Gary Payton, who collected 23 points and 6 assists for the Sonics. "If we can go and play the way we did in the last two games, we can win on Sunday and see what happens on Wednesday."
"I trust this basketball team," said Karl. "They're going to know what to do to win in Chicago."
The game marked only the second time all season that Chicago had lost two games in a row and was the Bulls' lowest-scoring game of the 1996 Playoffs. The Sonics remained on the court following the game to salute their loyal fans.
"This team has a lot of heart, and we were not going to let them celebrate on our court," said Payton. "The fans have been great for us and we love them for this...That's why we went back onto the court to thank them."
"The fans did a great job of lifting us up," added Karl.
Shawn Kemp had another outstanding game for Seattle, finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
"Shawn has had a great series," said Seattle's Hersey Hawkins, who chipped in 21 points. "No one on their team can guard him. He's stepped up his game and now he's a superstar."
"We feel that we had our opportunities tonight to win the ball game," said Chicago coach Phil Jackson. "I think our guys ran out of gas, and it hurt us not to have Ron (Harper) available to relieve them and help out with some of the ballhandling...It was our plan to come out here and win one game; we got the first one and then they rallied to win the next two."
The fast and furious pace predicted by Seattle coach George Karl prior to the game was noticeably absent in the first quarter. Instead, both teams had their problems to start out the game. Seattle's Shawn Kemp scored the Sonics' first 8 points, but the rest of the team had trouble getting the ball in the basket, while Chicago had four turnovers. The Bulls jumped out to a 14-8 lead at 7:17, followed by nearly three minutes in which neither team could score. Seattle's Hersey Hawkins ended the quarter by scoring 6 straight points in the final 1:42 and tied the game at 18 to end the quarter. Toni Kukoc led the Bulls with 7 points in the quarter, followed by 6 for Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan led the Bulls with 26 points.
Things picked up in the second, with five lead changes and three ties before the Sonics pulled ahead with an 8-2 run to lead by 5 points, 39-34, with 3:12 remaining in the half. Chicago's turnover woes continued with four more, and the Bulls shot 1-for-10 from three-point range in the first half. Yet behind 11 second-quarter points by Jordan and 7 from Scottie Pippen, the Bulls managed to close the gap and trailed by only one, 43-42 at halftime. Kemp continued to play well, leading the Sonics with 14 points (5-for-8), followed by Gary Payton with 11 and Hawkins with 9. Jordan totaled 17 (8-for-13) at the half, including six of Chicago's final 8 points, to lead the Bulls, followed by Kukoc's 9.
It was more of the same in the third. With the KeyArena crowd supporting the Sonics at a deafening level, the Sonics refused to bow before Jordan and the Bulls. Seattle led by as many as 7 points in the third quarter, but Chicago chipped away, briefly regaining the lead by a score of 53-52 at 5:42 and ending the quarter trailing by only 2 points, 62-60.
"Their team has a lot of class, they're not just going to die," said Hawkins. "We're just going to go to Chicago and take our chances."
Return to top of page