It's easy to be annoyed with national sportscasters when you're rooting for your home team. It's easy to interpret much of what they have to say as negative.

Particularly when you're a Utah Jazz fan and you have noted Michael Jordan disciples like Isiah Thomas and Ahmad Rashad working for NBC.But sportscasters have to be honest about what they're seeing. And when a team is stinking up the court as badly as the Jazz were on Sunday night, there's no room to criticize them for criticizing the team.

"It's not just a defeat," Costas said. "They're being embarrassed here."

"If this were a boxing match, they would have stopped it already on cuts," he added later. And, "A total humiliation for the Utah Jazz."

Were the NBC sportcasters negative? Sure.

Were the Jazz awful? Absolutely.

Sure, it hurt to hear the truth. But you can't blame the messengers for delivering it.

STUNNED: Of course, Utah fans weren't the only ones who couldn't believe what they were seeing as the Jazz were getting blown out.

"Man, this is unbelievable," Costas said. "Utah with 38 points with 41/2 minutes left in the third quarter."

PRESCIENCE? Doug Collins may be the best analyst in basketball. He certainly was the most prescient one working for NBC on Sunday.

To say that the network's pregame analysis of Karl Malone was negative would be an understatement. Not that the NBC team didn't have plenty of reason to be down on the Mailman - his weak play and worse shooting in the first two games of the NBA Finals made him an unavoidable target.

But Collins went out on a limb, saying, "He's got to keep shooting."

Six Malone shots and six Malone baskets later, Collins looked like a genius.

WHOOPS: Midway through the second quarter, NBC made its first real blunder of the Finals. Stuck in yet another replay of Michael Jordan making a great move, the network missed the resumption of play and didn't rejoin the game until the Jazz had already inbounded the ball and turned it over.

But it was an exception that proved the rule. NBC's production quality has been consistently excellent.

WORTHWHILE STORY: It was certainly nothing new to Utahns - the story had been reported repeatedly here - but NBC did a particularly good job with its pregame and halftime features on Utah coach Jerry Sloan's wife, Bobbye, and her battle with breast cancer.

Hannah Storm's interview with the Sloans hit just the right note - sort of straight-forward and sympathetic at the same time, without gushing or becoming maudlin. Great stuff.

MAKE IT STOP: If I have to watch that Gatorade "Be Like Mike" commercial one more time, I'm going to retch.

GREAT INTERVIEW: Kudos to Jim Gray for his pregame interview with Chicago's Steve Kerr - and to Kerr himself, who talked about his certainty that the Bulls will be dismantled, about Rodman's growing unreliability, about what a thrill it is to be on a team like Chicago, and so on.

STATING THE OBVIOUS: Coming back from halftime, Gray reported that, "Jerry Sloan was not a happy man."

Gee, you think?

QUOTABLE: Costas, commenting after Malone hit his third jump shot in a row to open the game: "Prior to that, in the first two games, he hit three more jumpers than a dead man. He was three of 22."

GOOD REPORTING: Nice job by NBC to report that Larry Miller and Jerry Sloan had agreed "in principle" to a new three-year contract.

THAT'S ODD: Nice catch for NBC to get Sloan's quizzical look and catch him saying, "Where's Greg?" when Ostertag failed to appear when his name was announced as a member of the starting lineup.

And nice job to almost immediately report the reason - that Ostertag was having trouble with his contact lenses.

UNEXPECTED: Isiah Thomas actually made an excuse for the Jazz's poor play. When Costas hit again at the fact that the Bulls were doing so well despite a tough seven-game series against the Pacers and little rest while the Jazz had a 10-day break after sweeping the Lakers, Thomas came to Utah's defense.

"Yeah, but in the playoffs you want to have your rest early and get your rhythm late," he said.

QUOTABLE: Costas, after doing the rigmarole about and all of its high-tech coverage of the Finals, added, "Or perhaps all of that is too much work for you, and you'd like to just sit in the recliner and watch the game."

NONSENSICAL: What exactly is the reason for having a camera-equipped blimp flying over a basketball stadium? To get those great shots of the roof?

DUH: Costas is a great sportscaster, but he apparently knows nothing of time zones. When Malone got a bit profane in a post-game interview, Costas said, "Luckily, it's late and most of the kids are in bed."

Let's see, it was before 9 p.m. in the Central Time Zone, before 8 p.m. in the Mountain Time Zone, before 7 p.m. in the Pacific Time Zone. Not everyone lives on the East Coast, Bob.

And the interview was shown on tape - why didn't NBC bleep the word that elicited Costas' comment?