June 7, 1997 in Sports

Jazz Get Altitude Adjustment

Mark Whicker Orange County Register
 

This is why the NBA insists on a change of venue. It ensures a fair trial.

The Utah Jazz exchanged their blue uniforms for white, climbed 4,000 feet and became everything they were not in Chicago.

They were passive there, aggressive here. They were unbalanced there, they got four double-figure scorers here. They lost two games there, and they won here in Game 3, 104-93, and they made their harshest, most uncompromising critic withdraw his character assassinations of Wednesday.

“We were a little more active defensively tonight,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said.

And the Bulls?

The defending world champs seemed to think the turning point was Utah’s pregame show.

“A circus,” Steve Kerr said. “I didn’t think we were going to play a game there for a while. I thought they were going to bring the elephants and turn it into a real circus.”

“I’m bringing earplugs Sunday,” said coach Phil Jackson, smiling but not necessarily joking, “and if I have a hearing loss, I’m going to sue this (Utah) organization. Obviously this crowd is outrageous. What they do before the game is totally beyond limits.”

Now hold on. This is like Lenny Bruce accusing Howard Stern of gutter mouth.

The Bulls pioneered the brain-busting player introductions, dimming the lights and hammering the Alan Parsons Project music through your frontal lobe. Bang the eardrums slowly.

All Utah did was swarm the crowd with popping balloons and touch off 10 fireworks salvos.

“The fans feed off that and Karl Malone feeds off that,” Jackson said.

Malone then ate up the Bulls with 37 points and 10 rebounds and 10 free-throw attempts. His ears were already in condition, since he literally rode his Harley-Davidson into the arena late Friday afternoon.

The lordly Bulls refused to stay in Salt Lake City with the peons. Instead, they are camping luxuriously in Park City, 45 miles east. Bus lag, altitude adjustment, nerve deafness - everything ailed the Bulls.

In fact, the champs turned most of the evening into a demonstration of just how many phenomena must go haywire for them to lose.

Dennis Rodman played for 24 minutes, sat for 24, and no one could discern a difference. He had no points and three rebounds, and he did not decorate the floor in the fourth quarter.

“He needs that high intensity and emotion to go out and play his type of basketball,” Michael Jordan said, “and tonight he didn’t come with the same motivation.”

“I gotta come and just play,” said Rodman, walking through cameramen and wearing an official Rosemont (Ill.) Police shirt. “If we win, fine, if we lose, fine, but I’ve just got to get my act together.”

The Chicago defense was knocked back when Utah broke out its motion offense. Instead of pick-and-rolling themselves to sleep, the Jazz moved the ball with random imagination. In doing so, they rediscovered the layup.

“Their offense has a tendency to get a little stagnant,” Kerr said. “They went back to the pick-and-roll later, but by then, they were all moving better.”

The Bulls still possess the heaviest footsteps in sports. They trail, yet you tremble. They came within a couple of bombs of winning this thing. At worst, they gave the Jazz the shakes.

“We finished on a strong mode,” Jordan said. “We created some problems with our pressure defensively, and they didn’t handle it very well. If anything, it makes them aware of our defensive intensity. We were able to put them on their heels a little bit.”

In a 3-minute span, Jordan struck for two 3-pointers and a 20-footer and Pippen hit two 3-pointers. A 15-point lead shrunk to seven before the Jazz held on.

“That’s the thing,” Kerr said, nodding. “They (Utah) know that even if they play great, they can’t blow us out. And they know we’re going to play better than this, on Sunday.”

The Bulls held that thought as they headed back up the mountain. The birds will sing this morning and the brooks will babble, and Jackson says he’d better hear them.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE STOCK REPORT A quick glance at Spokane’s John Stockton at the NBA Finals.

Pts Ast Reb Sti Game 3 17 12 7 2 Average 15.6 10.3 4 2

“John Stockton penetrated deep into the Bulls’ defense whenever he wanted.” Raad Cawthon, Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter

This sidebar appeared with the story: THE STOCK REPORT A quick glance at Spokane’s John Stockton at the NBA Finals.

Pts Ast Reb Sti Game 3 17 12 7 2 Average 15.6 10.3 4 2

“John Stockton penetrated deep into the Bulls’ defense whenever he wanted.” Raad Cawthon, Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter


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