All year long, even after tough losses, Jerry Sloan said he didn't lose any sleep thinking about basketball.
That changed on Sunday night. The Utah Jazz coach had a bad case of insomnia, and understandably so.His team had just been beaten by 42 points. His Hall of Fame players were turning the ball over with regularity. His club's bread-and-butter play, the pick-and-roll, wasn't working. His team managed only 54 points, a league record for futility.
And his guys, for lack of a better word, quit. They gave up in the second half. For a competitor like Sloan, that hurt more than anything - enough to keep him awake at night. "The way they beat us the other night, they probably don't have to take us seriously," said Sloan. "That's pretty obvious. They know they've got us in the trick box. Now all they've got to do is close the lid."
Still, the Jazz have a chance to redeem themselves in Game 4 Wednesday in the United Center. Utah can even the series at 2-2, regain the momentum and ensure at least one more game - much to Dennis Rodman's chagrin - in Salt Lake City with a win.
A loss, meanwhile, will all but mean it's over for the Jazz. The Bulls would have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, and no team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals.
Sloan, not wanting to relive the nightmare that was the second half of Sunday's game, didn't even watch all of the tape. He didn't subject himself or his players to the third and fourth quarters. Instead, the Jazz watched film of their first half - which was nearly as bad - to prepare for Wednesday's crucial game.
The Jazz, no doubt, will make some adjustments. But at Tuesday's media session, they were keeping mum on their strategies.
"Were we supposed to tell you guys?" asked Karl Malone when a reporter queried what changes the Jazz had in store. "I don't think I want to do that."
The starting position most likely to see a switch is center. Greg Foster started the first two games, but he's only scored two points on 1-for-8 shooting in the series. Greg Ostertag started Game 3, but he went just 1-for-7 - and all of his attempts were inside a couple of feet. Sloan pointed to missed opportunities by Ostertag early in Sunday's game as one of the reasons the Bulls were so effective defensively. Had Ostertag made a couple of dunks, Sloan contends, his defender - Scottie Pippen - wouldn't have been as aggressive in double-teaming Stockton.
Sloan wouldn't say on Tuesday what he planned to do, but it wouldn't be too surprising to see Karl Malone start at center and Adam Keefe start at the power forward spot. Malone would do an adequate defensive job on Bulls center Luc Longley, and Keefe could then chase around Toni Kukoc or Dennis Rodman. On the offensive end, Keefe would be there to do what he does best, move without the ball. Unlike Ostertag, Keefe can catch the ball in traffic and take it strong to the hoop, and that should force Pippen to play more honest defense.
In addition to needing more out of their center position, the Jazz would like to see an improved Stockton. He had a big 24-point, eight-assist night in the series opener - Utah's sole win. In the Jazz's back-to-back losses, however, Stockton has combined for only 11 points while turning the ball over 10 times. He's only taken nine shots in the past two games, in part because he's been getting double teamed, but also because he is sometimes not selfish enough while trying to distribute the ball.
Stockton scored on a short jumper from the baseline in the first quarter on Sunday, "but after that he didn't take the shot, and he's got to be able to take those shots," said Sloan.
It's easy to see why Sloan and the Jazz would want Stockton to go ahead and cast off more often. The Jazz point guard is shooting 67 percent from the field in the Finals, by far the best on the team.
Stockton, meanwhile, says the defense the Bulls are employing that seemed to baffle the Jazz so much on Sunday is not unique.
"We've been trapped before," said Stockton. "We've had the ball taken out of my hands, so to speak, before, and we've adjusted. The fact that we didn't do it the past couple of games, mostly in the last game, was something we have to address, but it's not something we haven't seen before."
Despite the lopsided loss, the Jazz remain optimistic.
"I think our confidence is great, I really do," said Malone. "We've always responded well after a tough loss like that, so there's no reason to think any different."
Michael Jordan agrees that Game 4 will be much different than the last one.
"We expect Utah to come out like a wounded animal," said Jordan. "The task they have to deal with is how they break down our defensive intensity. We seem to have a good plan to contain them."
Game 1 Jazz 88
John Stockton leads Jazz with 24-points.
Game 2 Chicago 93
Jordan scorches the Jazz for 37
Game 3 Chicago 96
Jazz shoot 20 percent in blowout
Game 4 UTAH
June 10 at Chicago
Wed. TV, TIME: NBC, 7 p.m.
Game 5 UTAH
June 12 at Chicago
TV TIME: NBC, 7:00 p.m.
Game 6 Chicago
June 14 at UTAH
TV, TIME: NBC, 5:30 p.m.
Game 1 Chicago
June 17 at UTAH
TV, TIME: NBC, 7 p.m.