ALONE IN ITS darkest hour, the Utah Jazz is searching on its hands and knees for inspiration, although it could be a blindfold and a final request it's after.

Our western neighbors simply should consider this a friendly public service offering: What happened Sun-day in a blowout loss to the Bulls doesn't have to be the end of the world as you know it.Though it very well could be.

For inspiration, the Jazz should look no further than the 1985 Lakers, whom the Celtics drop-kicked 148-114 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Sound familiar? The Bulls similarly pummeled the Jazz 96-54 in Game 3 of the Finals on Sunday.

Utah would love to see more parallelism. After that initial 34-point loss, the Lakers roared back to beat Boston in six games. For the Jazz to do that, it would have to overcome a 2-1 deficit, beat the Bulls at least once at the United Center and perhaps pull a Lazarus . . .

The Jazz is dealing with its own mental health issues. A 42-point loss can do things to a team, can make it question everything, can make it jit-tery.

The best advice for the team with sneaker prints on its chest is also the hardest to follow: Blow off the blowout, but don't forget the shame of it.

Rick Morrissey

Chicago Tribune

TEX WINTER CALLS them the Dobermans.

They play defense for the Chicago Bulls, and they have hounded the Utah Jazz since the fourth quarter of Game 1 in the NBA Finals.

Winter, a Bulls assistant coach, has come up with an apt description.

A Doberman, one of nature's most graceful animals, has long legs and a ferocious heart, and it can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time if it spots an unsuspecting prey.

Once it reaches its destination, it reacts quickly without a lot of wasted energy.

Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper cover a lot of the basketball court on defense. Unsuspecting Utah players think they're open, then all of a sudden there's Pippen swatting away a pass, or Rodman blocking a shot or Harper's long arms redirecting a John Stockton pass.

A columnist in Utah said the series was over after the Jazz won Game 1 in overtime.

He was right.

The Jazz made the Dobermans mad. Now Bulls defenders are coming so quickly with such intensity and purpose that Chicago might end this series by Game 5, which is Friday night at the United Center.

Perry A. Farrell

Detroit Free Press

MICHAEL JORDAN LOVES making the doubters eat crow.

After scoring an epic 96-54 rout to go up two games to one in the best-of-seven NBA Finals, the Chicago Bulls have stilled the whispers that they were too old and too tired, that they could not beat the Utah Jazz without the home-court advantage.

"I love it. I've tried to enjoy the moment," said Jordan, who is savoring this sixth title chase in case it turns out to be the "last dance" for the five-time champions.

"When we lose a game it's a lot of panic going around the city," Jordan said.

But a victory of the magnitude of Sunday night's calms even Bulls-obsessed Chicago and its sometimes carping newspaper columnists.

Gary Hill


THERE HAVE BEEN several times when trying to beat the Bulls was almost a joke.

But there has never been anything like Sunday's 42-point laugher at the United Center in Game 3 of the NBA Fi-nals.

If there is one microscopic bit of hope the Utah Jazz can take from that game, it's that things can't get any worse.

Michael Murphy

Houston Chronicle

UTAH COACH JERRY Sloan came strolling onto the floor as cheerful as a bluebird Monday. He stopped with a smile and said, "Hello, everyone," with the glee of a morning show host.

Not exactly the look of doom. The typically glum Sloan chuckled as he called the film of his team's humiliating 96-54 loss to the Bulls on Sunday in Game 3 of the National Basketball Association Finals a cartoon . . .

Maybe this was the best way to deal with disaster. If Sloan had acted as if the Bulls were so superior to his team, the Jazz might not have a psychological chance of showing up for Game 4 on Wednesday night.

So the Jazz spent Monday focusing on what it can do differently. And that boils down to one simple goal: play intelligently. The Jazz may not be as physically menacing as teams from the East, but Sloan's players have succeeded against the Bulls by keeping their heads no matter how much chaos Scottie Pippen and Chicago's defense try to cause.

Selena Roberts

New York Times

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