Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulls Are Halfway to Heaven Chicago Grinds to 92-88 Victory against Seattle, Leads Series 2-0

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulls Are Halfway to Heaven Chicago Grinds to 92-88 Victory against Seattle, Leads Series 2-0

Article excerpt

With the Chicago Bulls, if you hesitate, you lose.

Friday night in the United Center, the Seattle SuperSonics seemed to have bounced back from their loss in the first game of the NBA finals. They were aggressive early, defensively sound, and resilient.

But as the Bulls have shown, it is not enough to be effective in spots or for a dozen minutes here and there. Against Chicago, which sees its destiny as capturing this championship, you must be relentless and nearly perfect for 48 minutes.

The Sonics faltered in the third quarter, thrown off their stride by a Bulls team that put together the type of high-pressure, effective run they have all but patented. The result was a 92-88 Chicago victory.

Even though the Bulls struggled early, there seemed an inevitability about the game's outcome.

For Seattle, Friday night's game, the second in the best-of-seven series, was crucial. A loss meant the Sonics returned home down, two games to none, to a team that won an NBA-record 72 games this season and that has a chance, if it can sweep this series, to put together a historic 15-1 playoff run.

Where did Seattle, which won 64 regular-season games, fall short? Its point guard, Gary Payton, seemed unable to step up his game to the level to match the Bulls. Shawn Kemp, effective early, found himself in foul trouble. The Chicago pressure again forced open every crack in the Seattle game.

Where did Chicago succeed? It got a splendid performance from Dennis Rodman, who owned the boards in the third quarter and sparked the team. It got a contribution from little-used reserve Randy Brown. And it got a just-in-the-nick-of-time performance from Toni Kukoc.

The Sonics spent most of the third quarter looking as though they were accomplishing what they wanted, which was keeping the game close and taking it to a late-game shoot-out.

At one point Chicago seemed ready to run away, and Seattle fought back from a six-point deficit. But with three minutes remaining in the quarter, Chicago's defensive pressure, coupled with an offense sparked by the rebounding of Rodman, enabled the Bulls to get an 11-point lead.

Rodman, who had only six rebounds in the first half, exploded in the third quarter for 10 rebounds, including eight offensive boards. …

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