DON'T EVEN SUGGEST that the king had fallen and couldn't get up. The final days of the Chicago Bulls' dynasty just got a little longer. . . .

But the team that has won five NBA championships in the last seven years kept itself together with excruciating grit Sunday night, forcing itself past the dogged Indiana Pacers and back into the NBA Finals.Phil Jasner

Philadelphia Daily News

THEY HAVE NEVER had to fight so long, so hard, and, at times, so futilely, simply to take the next step. Their warts and blemishes exposed for all the world to see, their swagger reduced at times to juvenile behavior, the world champion Bulls nevertheless have earned the right to defend their title. . . .

But no one who witnessed Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals at the United Center could have not felt that in another time or place, it would have been Larry Bird preparing his team for the Utah Jazz.

Peter May

The Boston Globe

LET OTHER TEAMS present a more attractive facade. The Chicago Bulls may not be what they once were, but they are going to the National Basketball Association Finals for the sixth time in eight seasons because they remain the best at what they do until the Utah Jazz says otherwise.

Michael Hunt

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

JORDAN DELIVERED, BUT he had a lot of help. As a result, the Bulls are off to their sixth appearance in the NBA Finals in eight years, and a rematch with the Utah Jazz beginning Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Just about everybody did what they had to do to shove aside the pesky Pacers 88-83 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in front of a full house of mostly relieved fans at the United Center.

Terry Armour

Chicago Tribune

MICHAEL JORDAN TRIED so hard not to call it a "guarantee" or a "promise." Whatever term he wanted to use for his prediction - "We're going to win Game 7," he had said two nights earlier - he backed it up.

Not with one of his vintage scoring outbursts, but with alert passing, timely rebounding and a complete handcuffing of his nemesis and the Indiana Pacers' sometimes-hero, Reggie Miller.

David Steele

San Francisco Chronicle