It was embarrassing, no question about it. Now here's the million-dollar question: Can the Utah Jazz recover from their 42-point loss on Sunday to make a series out of the NBA Finals?
The Jazz seem to believe they can. Or at least they say they believe they can, although their confidence has to be shaken."Look at our history," said Jeff Hornacek. "When things go bad, they go real bad. There doesn't seem to be a middle road for us."
Of course, a 42-point loss is extreme on the bad side even for the Jazz. When asked if he'd ever played in such a lopsided loss in the past, Hornacek thought about it for a second.
"I was in Philadelphia for a year, so yeah," he said. "But I haven't been in a loss like this one on a good team."
And the Jazz were better than just a good team this year. They won a league-best 62 regular season games and were on an 11-for-12 roll in the playoffs before Friday night.
Jerry Sloan and Karl Malone both said the lopsided setback to the Bulls should be enough to ensure the team comes out with more energy in Wednesday night's Game 4.
"I think it would be real easy (to shake off the loss), if you are a competitor," said Sloan.
"They were shooting 3-pointers at the end, you see how they can bury you. If that wouldn't get you ready to play, I don't know what would."
Malone put it in a similar way.
"If a game like this can't get you motivated to play, nothing else will," said the Mailman.
"We'll see what happens. Our plays work, but we have to run them. We have to execute."
John Stockton, who was so brilliant in the series opener when he led the Jazz to victory, has struggled in the past two games, both Jazz losses. The Jazz point guard scored only two points on 1-for-4 shooting from the field with five turnovers on Sunday.
The Bulls put Scottie Pippen on Greg Ostertag to start the game. Since Ostertag is not a true offensive threat, it left Pippen able to be "a floater," to double team on various Jazz players. Pippen, as a floater, also helped Ron Harper dog Stockton, which kept Utah from getting into their offensive sets as quickly, if at all.
The Jazz contend the way Pippen was playing defense is against the rules, although they only have themselves and impatience to blame for the Bulls not getting caught.
"If (Pippen) is going to come off his man, he needs to come all the way and double (team) or it's illegal defense," said Stockton. "But we didn't give him a chance to do that. As soon as he crossed over we went and did something too quickly and didn't expose the illegal defense. Hopefully we can do that next game."
While Sloan seemed to suggest that the Bulls ran up the score - their reserves nailed four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter with the game long over, much to the delight of the starters who were whooping it up on the bench - he would not come right out and say it. When asked point blank if the Bulls lacked class by running up the final margin, Sloan wouldn't answer.
"I don't think I want to be set up by that question," he said.
But he didn't come right out and say the Bulls didn't run up the score, which spoke volumes.
Bulls coach Phil Jackson thinks the whole idea is ludicrous.
"I don't believe that Jerry Sloan would say (that the Bulls ran up the score)," said Jackson.
"Michael (Jordan) didn't play the fourth quarter. Scottie kind of guided that crew, but we had four guys off the bench playing. That wasn't the case, and I'm sure Jerry didn't mention that. I know he's much more of a pro than to say that."
The Jazz say it's just time to put Sunday's debacle in the past.
"We've bounced back before," said Ostertag. "That's all you can do. It's just a loss. The only thing about it is that it was a 40-point loss. But I think if you're going to lose, you'd rather lose one where you don't even have a chance rather than a buzzer beater."
Said Stockton, "I have confidence in the coaches. I know that they are going to come up with a game play for us that will make the necessary adjustments. Then I also have confidence in my teammates, so we can come out and perform those adjustments, and that's really the key."