HOLD THE CAREER retrospective. Along with the Champagne, "Michael: An Appreciation," must wait another day.

After a torturous week in the city of the Bulls, John Stockton and Karl Malone spoiled the dynasty's party Friday night at the United Center and finally get to go home to a hero's welcome.They and the Utah Jazz staved off Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the National Basketball Association finals, an 83-81 victory that forces the Chicago Bulls to return to Salt Lake City and play in front of the league's most hostile crowd.

Mike Wise

New York Times

KARL MALONE JUST crashed the party.

Malone scored a game-high 39 points, carrying his Utah Jazz to a stunning, 83-81, victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Malone stopped - or at least postponed - a much-anticipated victory parade. With an entire city lined up outside the United Center and expecting to start celebrating a sixth NBA title, the Bulls were halted rudely by Malone's overpowering performance. . . .

Malone, who was criticized for a mediocre performance throughout the series, played with a wide-open confidence he had not shown since the Finals began, challenging the Bulls at every possession.

Tim Povtak

The Orlando Sentinel

KARL MALONE KNEW what everybody was calling him - a phony, a fraud or worse.

Malone finally showed up for the Jazz when his team most needed him, and it was he - not Michael Jordan - who was making all the clutch shots as Utah defeated the Chicago Bulls 83-81 on Friday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

And with the type of performance that he hadn't come up with until now, Malone delayed any plans the Bulls had of celebrating a sixth championship on their home court.

They had a chance at the end, but Jordan missed a high-arching 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the series back to Salt Lake City for Game 6 on Sunday night.

Chris Sheridan

Associated Press

POSTPONE THE CORONATION. Suddenly we've got a competition.

With the table set on Friday night for the Chicago Bulls' sixth championship and Michael Jordan's fond farewell, Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz crashed the party with a stunning, dramatic, 83-81 victory before a shocked crowd at United Center.

Richie Whitt



WITH JEFF HORNACEK streaking down the court, Scottie Pippen launched himself forward, barely getting a hand on Hornacek to draw the oh-so-crucial foul.

It was one of those nights.

No matter what Chicago did, it just couldn't catch the Utah Jazz. That punishing defense, so dominating in the last three games of the NBA Finals, was nowhere to be found Friday night. Instead, it was Utah getting tough and ugly, pushing the five-time champions around and disrupting an entire city's party.

Nancy Armour

Associated Press

HOLD THAT CITY-ROCKING, traffic-stopping celebration, Chicago. Your two-time defending champion Bulls still have a bit of work to do.

Due in large part to the effort and resilience of the much-maligned Karl Malone, the National Basketball Association Finals are headed back to Utah for Game 6.

Malone scored a game-high 39 points on 17-of-27 shooting, almost single-handedly willing the Utah Jazz to an 83-81 victory over the Bulls and postponing a three-peat celebration that almost everyone in the Windy City had spent days preparing for.

Bloomberg News Service