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Bulls Blast Jazz By 42 Points


The blowout was so thorough and lopsided it made history.

The Utah Jazz broke the record for fewest points in a game since the inception of the shot clock as they were humbled 96-54 Sunday by the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

"It's an awesome score to look at. It's overwhelming in that respect," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said.

It was a wretched, sickly effort that shattered plenty of records. No one had ever lost by this many points (42) in the Finals, no one had ever made so few field goals (21) and no one had ever scored so few points in a second half (23).

But the one number that stood out was the 54 points. Over thousands and thousands of games, no NBA team had ever scored so few.

"Damn, that's all I can say. Wow," said Greg Foster of the Jazz. "We played scared and overanxious."

"It had to happen sometime to someone. It's too bad it happened to us," Greg Ostertag said.

Utah's 54 points broke the NBA record of 55 set earlier this season by the Indiana Pacers and was 17 fewer than the Finals record of 71 by Syracuse in 1955 and Houston in 1981.

The Jazz scored only 14 points in the first and third quarters, 17 in the second and nine in the fourth. It was so bad that the Bulls were actually doubled over laughing as the fourth quarter wound down.

"Everybody had a good time out there," Michael Jordan said. "We came out and played hard. We put the effort and intensity in and as a result we could relax a little in the fourth quarter."

The victory gave Chicago a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, with Game 4 set for Wednesday night.

That will give the Jazz two full off days to ponder their plight and try to figure out how they could become so hideous so quickly.

And this time, they can't blame Karl Malone.

After shooting 14-for-41 over the first two games of the series, Malone made his first six shots and finished 8-for-11 for 22 points.

But the rest of the team shot a combined 13-for-59, with Howard Eisley (0-for-6), Bryon Russell, Ostertag (1-for-7 each) and Jacque Vaughn (0-for-6) among the biggest offenders.

"We just didn't come ready to play," Malone said. "We just got an old fashioned butt-kicking. If this one don't wake us up, nothing will."

The Jazz also gave a new meaninto the term sloppy, finding every way imaginable to turn the ball over. Utah, which had 13 turnovers in Game 1 and 20 in Game 2, had 26 turnovers this time -- including seven by Malone and five by John Stockton -- which led to 22 Chicago points.

"I'm somewhat embarrassed for NBA basketball, for our guys to come out and have no fight at all," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "They got all the loose balls and all the rebounds."

The Bulls got bigger-than-usual contributions from Ron Harper and Scott Burrell and 24 points out of Jordan. Toni Kukoc added 16 points, Scottie Pippen and Burrell had 10 each and every player on the team scored at least two.

"I don't put too much significance into it," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "But we don't get our hopes up for this being any kind of steady thing for the rest of the series."

It was so one-sided that Jordan amused himself during a fourth-quarter timeout by clowning with courtside reporters and watching the scoreboard video screen as fans did a limbo dance.

Yes, it was that much of a laugher.

Malone sat out the entire fourth, just like Jordan, and watched Chicago go ahead by as many as 42 as the Bulls topped the old record margin of 35 by the Washington Bullets against Seattle in 1978.

Chicago also surpassed its own team record of a 33-point margin of victory, set in Game 1 of the 1992 Finals against Portland.

The Bulls broke this one open with a pair of first-half runs, a 12-0 spurt bridging the first and second quarters and a 12-2 run to close the first half that gave Chicago a 49-31 halftime lead.

So complete was Utah's breakdown that the Jazz allowed the Bulls to make two steals in the final six seconds of the second quarter.

Kukoc hit a corner jumper to make it 47-31, and Burrell swiped the inbounds pass. He missed a jumper and the Jazz rebounded, but Harper quickly stole the ball again and Burrell went to the free throw line for two more points after Stockton committed a loose-ball foul with 0.3 seconds left.

The lead reached 23 early in the third, 28 late in the third and was at least 30 for most of the fourth.

With 2:21 left, Jud Buechler's second 3-pointer of the night gave the Bulls a 40-point lead.

Malone hit Utah's first five shots and scored his team's first 10 points en route to shooting 6-for-6 for the quarter. But his teammates combined to shoot 1-for-16 -- including 0-for-4s for Russell, Ostertag and Jeff Hornacek -- and the Bulls closed the quarter with a 8-0 run to lead 17-14 going into the second quarter.

Pippen scored the next two baskets to extend the run to 12-0, and the Bulls would go ahead by a dozen points twice in the quarter -- the second time at 41-29 on a fast-break layup by Kukoc following Malone's first miss -- an airball baby hook.

Utah's frustration started boiling over, from Malone vehemently arguing on offensive foul that negated his seventh straight basket to Sloan going ballistic as the referees called 14 of the first 20 fouls on his team.

By the end, all the Jazz could do was sit quietly on the bench and wallow in their misery as Chicago won its seventh straight home game in the Finals and dropped Utah to 4-3 on the road in this year's playoffs.

"If we're not ready to play (Wednesday) after what went on out there, we shouldn't be in this business," Malone said.

"They were shooting 3-pointers at the end to say how much they could bury us. If that won't get you ready, I don't know what would."

Notes

  • Phil Jackson coached his 149th playoff game, moving ahead of Lenny Wilkens for third place on the career list.
  • Ostertag replaced Foster in Utah's starting lineup. It was Ostertag's first start since Feb. 10.
  • Eddie Vedder of the band Pearl Jam sang the national anthem.
  • Harper yelled "Rogaine" at Malone while he was shooting free throws in the second quarter, a reference to the TV ad about the hair-restoration drug that features Malone.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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