Every Shot to Win
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
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).
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).
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 ...
... 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.
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.
Jordan tries to take over. He rebounds the ball, brings it up (23RD/),
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).
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).
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Stockton tries to hit Foster cutting to the basket, but just
passes it out of bounds (12D/ BPOB TO). Jazz lead stays at two.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!!!!" ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Swoosh. Jordan makes his sixth and final field goal of the
quarter. The Bulls have 73 points. The Jazz have 69.
The Jazz comeback does not appear on this possession with Hornacek missing a
through the lane.
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...
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.
Jordan is whistled for a foul some would say he
did not commit. Stockton escapes with one of
two free throws.
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the details of the scoring method used to recount the
game, see this write-up.