June 7, 1997 in Sports

Mailman Kicks Dog That Bit Him Malone Has Mvp Form In Win

Chris Sheridan Associated Press
 

You could see it from the first time he touched the ball.

Gone was the deer-in-the-headlights look. In its place was a steadfast glare, accompanied by a spring in his step and a feisty demeanor that had been so obviously missing from the MVP’s repertoire.

Karl Malone was back in his comfort zone Friday night and broke out of his MVP blues and Finals funk.

“That’s the Karl Malone we all know,” Michael Jordan said.

It was the Karl Malone that had been missing in Games 1 and 2.

Malone scored 37 points and Greg Foster led a 28-point contribution from Utah’s bench as the Jazz held off a late Bulls charge to take Game 3 of the NBA Finals 104-93.

“My teammates definitely feed off what I do,” Malone said. “I was able to make an effort right off the bat and I was able to get inside. That set the tone.”

The victory cut Chicago’s lead to 2-1 in the best-of-7 series and kept the Jazz from falling into an 0-3 hole that no NBA team has recovered from.

Utah went ahead for good midway through the first quarter, opened a 16-point halftime lead and built it to 24 at the midpoint of the third quarter.

“Our defense never reacted to Karl’s explosiveness in the first half. I think we kind of laid back on our heels a little bit and he came out aggressively,” Jordan said.

The Bulls weren’t finished, though, and used a 16-3 run to pull within 11 with 7:43 left. There was plenty of time for more, and Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen put a scare into the raucous Delta Center crowd that gave Utah such a big early boost.

Jordan hit a pair of 3-pointers and Pippen nailed three in a row from behind the arc, the second of which pulled Chicago to 90-83 with 2:52 left. Pippen tied an NBA Finals record with seven 3s.

But Jordan, strangely quiet through the first three quarters, missed his next three 3-pointers and Utah, which lost Game 1 with some crucial misses at the line down the stretch, closed the game by making 14 consecutive free throws.

The series resumes here Sunday evening, and Malone plans to operate some more in that comfort zone.

It started for Malone on Friday, when he drove one of his Harley-Davidson motorcycles to the game, arriving in a cut-off black T-shirt.

“Michael and Scottie were laughing at me, they were wearing $5,000 suits and I came with this right here,” he said, pointing to the same T-shirt. ” Everybody in America sent me e-mails and all that, but I just needed that Harley ride today. I’ll take it Sunday, too.”

Malone’s 37 points were his most since scoring 42 in Game 4 of the second round against the Lakers.

“We ask our small guys to do a lot for us,” Malone said. “Now’s the time for our big guys to step up.”

Foster, one of those big guys, finished with 17.

“I don’t want anybody thinking about Greg Foster,” he said. “I just want to go out and have fun and do my job. Tonight, we came out and showed some spunk.”

John Stockton had 17 points and 12 assists and scored Utah’s final six points from the free throw line. It was the 22nd consecutive home victory for the Jazz, who last lost at the Delta Center Feb. 23.

Pippen finished with 27 and Jordan 26 for the Bulls, who dug themselves too deep of a hole.

The main reason was Malone. He scored 15 points in the first quarter, when the Jazz got a boost from the raucous Delta Center crowd that is such a big part of Utah’s 9-0 home playoff record and 38-3 regular season home record.

“I said to myself the first time down the court that I was going to take it hard to the basket,” Malone said. “I did and it got us going.”

Malone scored eight straight points for Utah to break the game’s last tie midway through the first quarter, and Foster took over in the second quarter when the Jazz started to turn it into a blowout.

The backup center, who totaled six points combined in the first two games, had 15 of his points by halftime, when Utah led 61-45.

It was more of the same for the Jazz early in the third quarter as the Bulls came out flat.

A 14-6 run gave the Jazz a 77-53 lead and forced Chicago to call a timeout.

When the Bulls came back, they were ready to make a game of it.

Chicago scored the final seven points of the quarter and opened the fourth with four more.

Later, Jordan hit a 3-pointer, a jumper and another 3-pointer, then fed Pippen for a pair of 3s that made it 88-80, but only once - at 98-91 with 32 seconds remaining - was Chicago able to draw closer.

Jazz 104, Bulls 93

Reb CHICAGO Min FG FT O-T A PF Pts Rodman 24 0-1 0-0 1-3 1 1 0 Pippen 40 7-13 6-9 1-4 4 2 27 Longley 18 2-5 0-0 2-4 0 4 4 Jordan 40 9-22 4-5 0-3 6 1 26 Harper 33 1-4 0-0 0-7 3 6 2 Williams 27 7-12 2-3 2-6 0 4 16 Kerr 19 3-6 0-0 1-1 1 2 7 Kukoc 25 3-8 2-2 0-5 4 2 8 Buechler 7 1-3 1-2 1-2 0 1 3 Caffey 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 2 0 Brown 3 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 Team 5 Totals 240 33-75 15-21 8-40 20 25 93

Reb UTAH Min FG FT O-T A PF Pts Russell 33 5-8 2-2 1-7 0 5 14 Malone 42 15-29 7-10 3-10 3 4 37 Ostertag 23 2-6 0-0 5-7 0 3 4 Hornacek 39 1-9 2-2 2-4 5 1 4 Stockton 37 5-10 7-7 0-7 12 2 17 Eisley 11 1-3 2-2 0-1 3 0 4 Morris 15 3-5 0-0 0-3 1 3 7 Foster 24 5-10 6-7 3-6 1 1 17 Carr 6 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 Keefe 10 0-1 0-0 0-2 0 0 0 Team 11 Totals 240 37-83 26-30 14-58 25 20 104

Chicago 22 23 15 33 - 93

Utah 31 30 16 27 - 104

3-Point goalsChicago 12-32 (Pippen 7-11, Jordan 4-10, Kerr 1-3, Rodman 0-1, Buechler 0-1, Harper 0-2, Kukoc 0-4), Utah 4-14 (Russell 2-4, Foster 1-2, Morris 1-3, Stockton 0-1, Eisley 0-1, Hornacek 0-3). TechnicalsHarper, Pippen. A19,911 (19,911).


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