Every Shot to Win

Dateline: 06/08/97

Game 4 of the 1997 Finals was a classic. The fourth quarter featured the Jazz and the Bulls changing leads six times, the last time coming with under a minute to go and changing in the Jazz favor. In the interest of history, I present below a replay of that final quarter.

To Start: 56-56

Entering the fourth quarter, it was 56-56 in a slow-paced and well-defended game. The fourth quarter was no different, except for the added emphasis placed on it by a clock running out.

58 UTA 12D/ 3 32D 12 32++1

The Jazz first possession started as usual with John Stockton dribbling the ball across half court (12D/). He passed to Bryon Russell (3), who found Karl Malone in the post, where he dribbled (32D) then passed back to Stockton (12). Stockton reposted Malone, who took the assist to hit the shot from the left box (32++1).

56 CHI 33D/ 25 23 25D KOB 25-Z

The Bulls started off the fourth with their offensive team on the floor. In this first possession, the Bulls moved the ball around the perimeter until it was knocked out of bounds. Steve Kerr took the inbounds pass and missed a three-pointer from the right side (25-Z).

58 UTA 34R 12D/ 3 32D-2

With a two-point lead, Chris Morris pulled down the Kerr miss (34R), handing it to Stockton, who went upcourt to try to repeat the previous possession (12D/). This time, Malone missed from the post (32D-2) and ...

59 CHI 33RD/ 23 33D 7++Y

... Pippen got the rebound, brought it upcourt and gave it to Jordan, who would touch the ball on every Bulls' possession of the fourth quarter. In this case, the ball ended up in Toni Kukoc's hands for an open three-pointer at the top (7++Y), which he would bang home for the 59-58 lead.

58 UTA 12D/ 32 12-X

Down by one, Utah sticks with its best two players, especially with Hornacek still off the floor nursing the leg. Here, Stockton brings it up, posts Malone, who then goes back to Stockton, who misses the three from the left side.

59 CHI 23RD/ 7 25 23D-1

Jordan tries to take over. He rebounds the ball, brings it up (23RD/), gives it to Kukoc, then to Kerr. Jordan demands the ball in the post, then dribbles around to find a shot from 12 ft on the left side. The Utah crowd gasps. Jordan misses (23D-1).

60 UTA 32R 12D/ 32++A

The Utah crowd roars as Malone snags the rebound (32R). "Find Stockton" has to be so ingrained in every Utah player's mind because they all do it as soon as they get a board. Stockton dribbles up, waiting for Malone, then sets him up for the jumper from the left side to put the Jazz up one (12D/ 32++A).

61 CHI 25D/ 23 25 23DF3 TIME 9:18 23D+D

For the Bulls, it's clear: go to Jordan. Kerr brings it up and does just that. Jordan returns it, then gets it back and tries to take Bryon Russell. Russell fouls him and we go to another stupid beer ad (23DF3 TIME 9:18). On returning, Find Jordan works out with a scary drive through the middle for a dunk (23D+D).

63 UTA 12D/ 32D 12D 3++Z

The Utah crowd stirs after the Jordan dunk, but they still have the reliable twosome to counter. Stockton up the court to Malone and back to Stockton. Surprise! Stockton finds Russell on the right wing for a three! Jazz by two.

61 CHI 23D 25 7 18-2

Why is Brian Williams in the game? Kukoc feeds Williams for a good shot in the lane, but Williams tries going with his off-hand. He misses badly.

65 UTA 34R 12D/ 44 12D 44++D TIME CHI 8:01

Morris rebounds the miss again and finds Stockton. Stockton sets something up for Greg Foster, who shows Brian Williams how to finish with a dunk (44++D). As Marv Albert says, "Phil Jackson doesn't like what he sees and calls timeout."

63 CHI 9D/ 23D+B

The Bulls come out of the timeout with most of their starters. Those starters do what the subs did and defer to Jordan, who hits the second of his six fourth quarter field goals, this one from the top of the key (23D+B). Jazz lead down to two.

65 UTA 12D/F9 12D 32 12D 3D 34 3-X

With the Jazz now facing the Bulls' starting defense, they tighten up. Unable to find a good shot for Malone, Russell tries and misses another three, this time from the left wing.

63 CHI 33RF32(4) 33D/ 23D-B

On the miss by Russell, Pippen pulls down the rebound and Malone thinks he steals it, but just picks up his fourth foul (33RF32(4)). The Bulls go to Jordan again. Again, Jordan tries the jumper from the top of the key. This time, he misses. Jazz still up two.

65 UTA 3R 12D/ BPOB TO

Stockton tries to hit Foster cutting to the basket, but just passes it out of bounds (12D/ BPOB TO). Jazz lead stays at two.

65 CHI 9D/ 7 13 9 23D 9 23D+C

The Bulls switch here to having Ron Harper bring the ball up (9D/). After a brief post-up for Longley (13), it is back to Jordan. Jordan dribbles down the right side and makes that impossible runner as he is falling out of bounds (23D+C). Tie game.

65 UTA 12D/ 14 32 12D-ABK9 24-S CK TO

The score is now tied and the Jazz haven't scored in a few trips up the court. Stockton can find little to set up an offense. He goes to Hornacek (14), who looks to Malone (32). With the shot clock running out, Malone passes up the shot and gives it to Stockton. Stockton tries to get his shot from the left wing, throws up a prayer that is blocked by Harper and the 24-second clock runs out (12D-ABK9 24-S CK TO). The Delta Center is quiet, but no one is panicking. It's still tied.

67 CHI 9D/ 7 33 23 7 33D 7-X 13RF44 23D-R 33R+L

The Bulls try to get Kukoc going, posting him (7) and eventually setting up the three-pointer, which he misses (7-X). On the Longley rebound, Foster commits a foul (). Jordan dribbles to the baseline, but misses. Pippen grabs the rebound and lays it in for a two-point Bulls lead. Everyone can sniff a momentum shift.

66 UTA 12D TIME UTA 5:22 00 12D 32 3D-3 ROB 32OB 14F23X*

So the Jazz call a timeout (TIME UTA 5:22), like every team does when they inhale the aroma of bad momentum. The Jazz return with all their starters, ready to turn the last five minutes into their comeback. It would start meekly here. After a miss by Russell and the ball going out of bounds, Hornacek draws a foul on Jordan on the inbounds. The 90% foul shooter Hornacek misses the first of two, making the fans wonder about nerves. He makes the second (14F23X*) and the Jazz trail by one.

67 CHI 23 9D/ 33 23D-2 91R 9 23D 33-1 13R 91 23 9 23D LB TO

Jordan continues to play -- as he has called it -- like "doo-doo". He misses a shot from the post initially (23D-2). After the Bulls get the offensive rebound (91R), Pippen plays like -- as he has called it -- like "s---" and misses a jumper from the left (33-1), but the Bulls get another offensive rebound (13R). Ultimately the ball ends up in Jordan's hands again and he drives to the hole. Ostertag reaches around to poke the ball away (23D LB TO). Jordan and Jackson and all of Chicago yell "Foul!!!!" ...

66 UTA 3STL 12D/ 14 12D 14F91 12D 3D-B 32R 3 12D 3D OF3 TIME CHI 3:20

... And Stockton pushes it upcourt. Give the Bulls credit for acting like lawyers, actually covering their backcourt while lobbying with the officials. The Jazz have to move the ball around before Hornacek draws a foul from Rodman (14F91). Russell tries to be a hero on the jumper from the top of the key, but misses (3D-B). Mlaone is there for the rebound (32R) and the Jazz reset. This time, Russell tries to draw the foul from Pippen, but gets called for leaning in (3D OF3). All that work and the Jazz are still down by one with 3:20 to go.

69 CHI 33D 25 7 23++2

Air Jordan, Air Jordan, Air Jordan. Kukoc finds Jordan cutting to the free throw line. Jordan buries it (23++2) and the Bulls are up 69-66.

66 UTA 12D/ 32 12D 32D-A

MVP, MVP, MVP. Stockton looks to Malone, who dribbles to get himself an off-balance jumper from the left side (32D-A). Clank. The three-point deficit feels a little bigger.

71 CHI 33R 23D/+B

Pippen grabs the rebound, gives it to The Man. The Man dribbles upcourt, takes and makes shot number five of his six. Five-point lead, 71-66, for the Bulls.

69 UTA 12D/ 14KOB 12D+Y

Down five and having scored one point in the last six minutes, it is do-or-die time for the Jazz. Chicago coach Phil Jackson would call this the biggest play of the game. After the ball gets knocked out of bounds by Rodman, John Stockton (who is still too good to not have a nickname) eyeballs a 24-foot three-pointer. Whoosh.

73 CHI 9D / 23D+B

Swoosh. Jordan makes his sixth and final field goal of the quarter. The Bulls have 73 points. The Jazz have 69.

69 UTA 12D 14D-2

The Jazz comeback does not appear on this possession with Hornacek missing a frantic runner through the lane.

73 CHI 91R TIME CHI 1:45 33D/ 7 23D LBTO

Rodman rebounds Hornacek's miss and, rather than get tied up, he calls the Bulls' second-to-last timeout (91R TIME CHI 1:45). Everyone knows who is going to get the call to rescue the Bulls. "Everyone" includes Stockton, who strips Jordan (23D LBTO) and heads the other way...

70 UTA 12STLD/F23 *X

If you were a bug on the floor trying to outrun a gargantuan size 13, you'd get an idea for what Stockton was thinking as Jordan trailed him down the court. Stomp. Wheeeee! Jordan is whistled for a foul some would say he did not commit. Stockton escapes with one of two free throws.

73 CHI 33R 13 9D/ 23D 33 23D 9 33-Z

The Bulls are still comfortable with just over a minute to go, a three point lead, and the only player ever to single-handedly defeat space aliens in basketball. Here the alien-beater tries to let his teammates do the work, but Pippen bricks a three from the corner (33-Z).

72 UTA 12RF33**

Still in search of a nickname, Stockton finds a rebound instead. And a foul from the frustrated Pippen. Boring old John makes two (12RF33**). The Bulls lead is one with one minute left.

73 CHI 33D/ 23D-B

For some reason, Jordan's shots are coming from the top of the key and they are not falling. Jordan felt pretty good about so many of them. The Jazz felt pretty good about so many of them not going in. This one in particular ...

74 UTA 12RD / 32++R TIME CHI 0:44.5

... Because Stockton would get another rebound, look upcourt, and instinctively throw the touchdown pass to a breaking Malone for the layup. And the 74-73 lead.

73 CHI 7D/ 25 23D 25-Z

Only 44.5 seconds left. Steve Kerr, who will never do a commercial that recounts the number of times he was asked to take the game-winning shot, leaves a three-pointer short.

76 UTA 14R TIME UTA 0:26.2 12D 32 55 32F33* TIME UTA 0:18 *

Hornacek's arm reaches for the rebound and someone calls for timeout to save Hornacek from losing the ball or getting into a jumpball situation (14R TIME UTA 0:26.2). The Bulls press the inbounds, but cannot prevent Stockton from getting the ball. Stockton passes it upcourt to Malone (12D 32). Malone looks tentative as he passes to Carr, who passes the hot potato back to Malone. Malone hesitates, then goes to the basket, where he is fouled as he haltingly passes outside (32 55 32F33). Hornacek tries to keep Pippen from talking to Malone, who stands at the free throw line trying to put the game away. A week after he missed two, Malone makes two. Jazz by three and 18 seconds on the clock.

73 CHI 7D/ 23D-Y

As the best one-on-one player in the established galaxy, Jordan pulls up and creates his own good look at the basket. It ain't proof, but his miss makes you think that maybe one guy can't beat the Jazz.

78 UTA 12RD / 3D+D

Stockton rebounds again and finds Russell, who gives the press a front-page picture. With that, we now know that this series is going to last at least six games.

I hope they are all this much fun.

Post Script

For the details of the scoring method used to recount the game, see this write-up.