Chicago 90, Utah 88
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Video: MJ hits the clutch trey to put the Bulls up 88-85 with 25 seconds left.
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Chicago Sun-Times:
Ailing MJ lifts Bulls to brink of title

Supporting cast gives MJ just enough help

Salt Lake Tribune:
Late letdown puts Jazz on ropes

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Michael Jordan overcame the stomach flu to score 38 points, including the tie-breaking three-pointer with 25 seconds left, as the Chicago Bulls moved within one win of their second straight championship with a 90-88 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game Five of the NBA Finals.

Michael Jordan
An exhausted Michael Jordan leaves the floor after yet another clutch performance.
Sick to his stomach in the locker room before the game, Jordan was terrible for stretches and brilliant in others. He saved his best for the fourth quarter, when he scored 15 points and carried the Bulls to the brink of their fifth title in seven years.

"We wanted it real bad," said Jordan, who shot 13-of-27 from the field in 44 minutes. "I was really tired and very weak. At halftime I told Phil (Jackson) to use me in spurts."

The Bulls trailed 85-84 when Jordan was fouled with 46 seconds left. After he made the first of two free throws to tie the score, his second shot was short, but the ball was knocked back to him. He brought it back outside the key and passed into Scottie Pippen in the post. Bryon Russell left Jordan to double Pippen, who kicked the ball back to Jordan for a wide-open three-pointer from the left side and an 88-85 lead.

"I almost played myself into passing out," Jordan said. "I came in and I was almost dehydrated and it was all just to win a basketball game. I couldn't breathe. My energy level was really low. My mouth was really dry. They started giving me Gatorade and I thought about IV."

The Jazz got a dunk from Greg Ostertag with 15 seconds to go and tried to trap the Bulls, who found Luc Longley underneath for a dunk and a 90-87 lead with 6.2 seconds left. The Jazz called timeout and set up a play, but Jeff Hornacek missed a three-pointer. John Stockton was fouled with two-tenths of a second left and split a pair of meaningless free throws.

Pippen added 17 points for the Bulls, who erased deficits of 16 points in the second quarter and eight in the final period and stunned the sellout crowd at the Delta Center, which had not seen a loss since February 23rd. Game Six is Friday at Chicago, where the Bulls won the first two games of the series.

The Jazz had won 23 straight home games, including their first 10 playoff contests. It was their first home loss to an Eastern Conference team since November 24th, 1995, when they were beaten by Chicago. Since the Finals went to a 2-3-2 format in 1985, no team has won the last two games on the road.

Karl Malone scored 19 points, but had just one basket in the second half. Stockton and Ostertag added 13 points apiece and Ostertag grabbed 15 rebounds for the Jazz, who were 4-of-17 from the field in the fourth quarter.

"I take every loss hard, and obviously this was a big loss, and I take this hard," Malone said. "They did a great job and we didn't. It kind of makes you feel real bad, makes me feel bad, because I didn't do some things for the team."

After blowing a 16-point lead in the second quarter, the Jazz regained control in the third period. They had some help, as they were not called for a team foul for nearly 11 minutes and saw Jordan score just one basket, a swooping left-handed layup that gave the Bulls a 63-63 tie with 4:49 to go.

Ostertag scored and Hornacek made a technical foul shot after Brian Williams shoved Malone. Williams responded with a dunk, but Russell made a three-pointer and Malone sank three free throws, extending the lead to 72-65 with 2:05 remaining.

A three-pointer by Chris Morris gave Utah a 77-69 lead early in the fourth quarter. Jordan made a jumper, Toni Kukoc and Jordan hit three-pointers and Jordan sank another jumper as Chicago grabbed a 79-77 lead with 8:25 remaining.

Russell made a three-pointer and Stockton tussled with Steve Kerr, with both players receiving technical fouls. A pair of free throws by Pippen tied it 81-81 with 5:57 remaining and Jordan and Malone both missed shots.

Stockton made a long three-pointer but Jordan answered with a driving layup with 2:44 left. Malone made a free throw after fouling out Dennis Rodman, who had two points and seven rebounds, with 2:25 to go. Ostertag had a big blocked shot, but Stockton and Malone missed shots that could have extended the lead.

"We had opportunities," Stockton said. "We had a nice lead and we even had a nice little run there early in the fourth that we felt we could build on and didn't take advantage of it. This is a championship, and close doesn't count."

Longley scored 12 points for Chicago, which avoided its first three-game losing streak with Jordan since November 1990. Russell and Morris added 11 apiece for the Jazz.

The Bulls, who went to the line just 12 times in Game Four, opened by going hard to the basket and had eight attempts in the first quarter. Pippen drew two fouls each on Hornacek and his replacement, Shandon Anderson. But Chicago shot just 33 percent (5-of-15) from the field and quickly fell behind.

Jordan scored Chicago's first two baskets, but clearly was not himself. A bank shot did not draw rim and he committed a pair of turnovers and a reach-in foul.

After a free throw by Williams closed the deficit to 9-8, the Jazz scored 12 straight points. Anderson had a slam and Malone scored in transition. Howard Eisley drilled a jumper and Morris buried a three-pointer, pushing the lead to 18-8 with 3:34 to go.

Malone was fouled and missed both free throws, but Ostertag grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled. He made the first and missed the second, but Malone rebounded and Ostertag again was fouled, this time making both for a 21-9 lead with 2:26 left.

Two baskets by Malone around a pair of free throws by Greg Foster gave Utah a 29-16 lead after one quarter. Malone had nine points as the Jazz shot 58 percent (11-of-19).

A combined three-point play by Malone and Stockton and two baskets by Antoine Carr gave Utah its largest lead at 36-20 with 10:30 to play in the second quarter and the game looked like a rout. But the Bulls came roaring back behind Jordan and their defense.

Jordan had Chicago's first eight points of the period. Hornacek's jumper made it 38-24, but Kukoc hit a three-pointer, Longley dunked and Pippen made a banker before a foul-line jumper by Jordan cut it to 38-33 with 6:33 remaining.

"That's one of the scariest things you can have in basketball, especially in a game like this," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "And Chicago knows it, anybody that plays knows it: When you come out and try to blow a team away -- which is what it looked like we were trying to do -- are you going to have enough energy to finish?"

Stockton and Malone scored around another banker by Pippen, but Malone sat down with his third foul with 5:06 to go and Chicago continued its comeback. Longley dunked again and Ron Harper followed a missed free throw by Rodman, making it 42-39. After Ostertag scored inside, Jordan scored six consecutive points, wrapping four free throws around a steal and a follow slam. The flurry completed a 25-8 surge and gave the Bulls their first lead at 45-44 with 2:32 remaining.

"Scottie got inside and tried some difficult shots and some of them went down," Chicago coach Phil Jackson said. "Michael was determined to get in there and penetrate and got to the foul line and kept us in the game in the second quarter."

The Jazz regrouped a bit and used two foul shots by Foster and a fast-break dunk by Russell to open a 53-49 lead at halftime. After attempting no free throws in Game Four, Jordan was 9-of-10 from the line in the second period, scoring 17 points.


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