SUNDAY, JUNE 8
Utah 78, Chicago 73
Salt Lake Tribune:
Salt Lake Tribune:
Karl Malone made the free throws and Michael Jordan missed the
shot as the Utah Jazz evened the NBA Finals at two games apiece
with a 78-73 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Malone had 23 points and 10 rebounds, but the Jazz never would have won without Stockton, who had 17 points, 12 assists and nearly every clutch play down the stretch as Utah scored the final nine points. In the fourth quarter, Stockton had six points and six assists.
"John Stockton made some terrific plays," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "They were sensational plays. The pass he made is probably one you'll never forget, because I don't know how he made it, and got it past (Jordan) the way he did, and Karl being able to catch it."
It was the second-lowest scoring game in Finals history but did not lack anything in terms of excitement. Tempers flared early, neither team led by more than seven points and Jordan overcame a poor start with a terrific fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 22 points.
"When he (Jordan) got going in the middle of the fourth quarter, he said, 'If you get the ball in my hands, I think I've got a good rhythm,'" said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "We kept going there. That last three-point shot he threw up there, I considered a tough shot for most people, but it was down and in, it came back out again. That would have tied the ballgame."
A soaring jumper by Jordan, a miss by Malone and a breakaway dunk by Jordan gave Chicago a 71-66 lead with 2:42 remaining. Stockton made a long three-pointer but Jordan answered with a fadeaway jumper from the foul line with 2:03 to go.
The Bulls appeared to have it wrapped up after Utah missed, but Stockton stripped Jordan and drove, drawing a foul. He missed one of the free throws, but Scottie Pippen missed a three-pointer and Stockton made two foul shots, cutting the deficit to 73-72 with 1:03 to play.
"He (Stockton) picked me clean," said Jordan. "I know Stockton likes to gamble, but I really didn't feel like he was there. I aggressively went at the block. I thought I had it clean, but they said I got him with the body. In Chicago, no call. In Utah, different story."
After Jordan, who was 11-of-27 from the field, missed a jumper, Stockton ran down the loose ball and found Malone with a long pass for the go-ahead points.
"I was really glad when it (the pass) got to him," said Stockton. "You watch it and you watch it, there's a lot of distance it had to travel. Once it hit his hand, it felt pretty good."
"Out of all the great ones he's made, I'll remember this one right here probably for the rest of my career, because it had to be the perfect pass," said Malone.
"That was a great pass, there's no doubt about it," said Jackson. "It looked like we were capable of perhaps getting to it, he put it just in the right spot. That's his forte."
On the next possession, Jordan passed to Steve Kerr, who missed a three-pointer from the corner.
Malone was then fouled and went to the line. He rattled in the first one, but the next one swished through, erasing the memory of Game One.
Jeff Hornacek scored 13 points for the Jazz, who remained perfect at home in the playoffs. Utah has won 23 straight home games since February 23rd, including 10 in the postseason.
Pippen had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, who again got nothing from Dennis Rodman. Rodman finished scoreless with six rebounds. Luc Longley scored 11 points and Brian Williams 10 to pick up some of the slack.
Game Five is Wednesday night at Utah in the NBA Finals 2-3-2 format. The Jazz are 48-3 at the Delta Center this season.
"I've never seen them (Jazz) with any fear in their eyes," said Pippen. "We realize that this series never was over when we left Chicago. We realized how well this team plays at home."
As expected, the Bulls began with Rodman on Malone, who came out firing. He missed his first two shots, but then made two jumpers, went over Rodman for a layup and drew a foul on him, making one free throw to give the Jazz their first lead at 9-8.
Looking for anything to get him going, Rodman missed a wild shot that Ron Harper followed in. After Jordan made a fading jumper, Rodman picked up his second foul when Greg Ostertag beat him to a rebound. Rodman missed a layup and jumper before heading to the locker room with an upset stomach with 2:38 to go.
Jordan set up a basket by Longley for a 14-14 tie before Hornacek got hot. After scoring a season-low four points in Game Three, he made a jumper and a nifty drive around a scoop shot by Jordan and added a three-pointer to give Utah a 21-16 lead after one quarter.
But Malone picked up his second foul and went to the bench early in the second quarter and the Bulls got a boost from their bench as Williams and Kukoc scored six points each over the next seven minutes. Kukoc made two three-pointers around a thunderous dunk off a steal by Williams as Chicago built a 34-29 lead with 5:05 remaining.
After a timeout, Stockton made a foul-line jumper and Rodman returned. Pippen followed a miss by Jordan before Malone drew another foul on Rodman, who tried to flop to the floor but did not get the call. He finished a frustrating first half with two rebounds, three fouls and no points, missing four shots.
Malone made both foul shots for his first points in more than 17 minutes, but Jordan sank a corner jumper and Longley got loose inside, giving the Bulls their largest lead at 40-33 with 1:22 left.
A basket by Game Three hero Greg Foster closed the deficit to 40-35 at halftime. Utah struggled to 41 percent (14-of-34) from the field, while Chicago shot 45 percent (18-of-40).
But the Jazz started quickly in the third quarter, scoring the first seven points as Stockton made a jumper and three-pointer around a banker by Ostertag, giving Utah a 42-40 lead.
Longley made a jumper and a powerful driving dunk before Malone and Rodman got into it. Rodman again tried to flop as Malone scored inside. As Malone ran back on defense, the fallen Rodman tried to trip him, getting a kick in the head and a technical foul for his trouble. Hornacek's foul shot and a three-pointer by Russell pushed Utah's edge to 48-44 with 6:43 to play in the third quarter.
The rough stuff continued. After Pippen hit a turnaround jumper, he drove to the basket and was thrown to the floor by Ostertag. The two got in each other's faces and had to be separated and a double technical was called with 5:42 left.
Jordan shot 0-for-4 and was scoreless in the third period, which ended in a 56-56 tie. Hornacek left with a knee injury but did return.
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