It's hard to argue with NBC's analysts particularly when they're proven so completely, utterly correct.
Since Game 2, everybody from Isiah Thomas to Doug Collins to Bob Costas to John Salley to Peter Vecsey has been hitting a consistent note - that Karl Malone needed to take the ball to the hoop. And, in particular, that he needed to drive in against Dennis Rodman.Finally, Malone did just that. The result? He scored 39 points, and the Jazz won.
QUOTABLE: "Dennis Rodman has said that he can play Karl Malone any day," Costas said. "Maybe not this day."
GOOD SOLDIER? NBC's Thomas was one of the few who didn't assign the lion's share of the blame for the Jazz's earlier woes to Malone. But whether Malone would appreciate that defense is questionable.
"I think he only deserves 50 percent of the blame and (John) Stockton deserves the rest," Thomas said. "Malone is a soldier and not a leader, and they have taken (Stockton) totally out of his game. . . . Stockton has been a leader and (Jerry) Sloan has been a leader, and Malone has been the soldier taking a bullet."
And later in the game, "I think that's the soldier's mentality of Karl Malone. He's not the leader, but he'll fight for you."
THAT'S COLD: Michael Jordan, in a pregame interview with his good buddy Rashad, had this explanation for his team taking a 3-1 series lead: "Their (the Jazz) overconfidence was our biggest strength going into this series."
WHO'S OVERCONFIDENT? Rashad, just before the game started, reported, "I think the Bulls, to a man, feel like this is the end of the series."
LEAST SURPRISING DECISIONS: That NBC would open its broadcast with a tribute to Michael Jordan and that the big halftime interview would be Rashad talking with Jordan.
MOST SURPRISING MOMENT: That Rashad was able to control himself and not plant a big kiss on Jordan at the end of the interview. (Of course, it was a pre-taped, edited piece - so maybe that part was edited out.)
REVISIONIST HISTORY: Funny how when the series began, nobody at NBC was talking much about how they expected the Jazz to win the series. But Friday, they were talking like that was conventional wisdom.
Among the comments, this one from Hannah Storm: "Just nine days ago, when the series began, the Bulls were actually considered underdogs."
GREAT TIMING: In the middle of the second quarter, just as Costas was saying, "Man, has Utah been sloppy with the ball when they can ill afford it," Howard Eisley threw the ball away again.
HE'S NO FORTUNE TELLER: Midway through the second quarter, Thomas dusted off his crystal ball. "What Utah has to guard against here is a big Chicago run. I sense that they're getting ready to turn on the jets," Thomas said.
Over the next three minutes or so, Utah outscored Chicago 8-4.
HIGH PRAISE: Thomas went out of his way to praise Malone for one play - for shoving Rodman and drawing a technical foul.
"I'm glad that Karl Malone and Utah have finally gotten mad," he said.
ON THE OTHER HAND: The replay showed that that technical was, at best, a weak call by the officials - something Costas, Collins and Thomas were all in rare agreement over. It was, as Costas said, "highly questionable."
HUH? "(Antoine) Carr is a great offensive scorer," Thomas said.
That would be as opposed to a defensive scorer?
WERE THEY WATCHING?: Midway through the third period, Costas credited Malone with a basket - with no disagreement from either Thomas or Collins - when Carr actually tipped it in. It was an error they never corrected.
HUH? What was Costas thinking when he told viewers the Jazz were "up by nine" at the end of the third quarter? The score was 59-55.