Karl Malone came out firing and - for a change - making his outside shots Sunday. The Mailman nailed his first six tries in the first quarter. Then it got ugly for the Jazz. The Bulls starting forwards - Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc - were solid offensively (a combined 26 points) and outstanding defensively (six steals). Pippen sacrificed his body for four charges, including a couple against Malone.
Nobody's confirmed the rumor that Greg Ostertag is going to make an exercise video called "Hands of Steel." He should. The Big O was a surprise starter but he seemed to fumble the ball more than anything else. He grabbed nine rebounds compared to only three for Malone, though. Luc Longley finally stayed out of foul trouble and totaled eight points and seven rebounds.
The bright side for the Jazz backcourt first: They held Michael Jordan to 24 points, which was 11 under his average in Salt Lake. He and Ron Harper terrorized the Jazz with their record-setting defensive performance, cutting of the passing lanes and double-teaming like no mid-30 somethings should be able to. Harper flirted with a triple-double (10 rebounds, eight points, seven boards). John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek were obviously flustered by the defense, combining for only eight points and seven turnovers.
Though the Jazz made most of them look like they belong on the first team All-NBA, the Bulls' reserves had more to do with the margin of victory than the actual outcome. Chicago's subs had only two points and four rebounds at halftime when the game was already over. They finished outscoring the Jazz's higher-profile bench 30-17, including an impressive 10 from Scott Burrell. He added nine rebounds.
Chicago Zen-philosopher/coach Phil Jackson engineered a defensive masterpiece most coaches could only dream of. Which could be what Jerry Sloan will be doing for the next few nights as he sleeplessly watches Nick at Nite. Jackson's blitzing scheme made the Jazz look futile in their pick-and-roll sets and everything else they tried to execute.