Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulls Give Jazz the Thumb, Grab Title

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bulls Give Jazz the Thumb, Grab Title

Article excerpt

The Chicago Bulls got rings for the thumb and another championship for the ages, this time on a thrilling last-second shot - not by Michael Jordan but by Steve Kerr.

In a clinching sixth game that was as good as they get, the Bulls did enough down the stretch to beat the Utah Jazz 90-86 on Friday night and win their fifth title in seven years.

The game hung in the balance until the final seconds against the Jazz, a dogged opponent who nonetheless couldn't avoid making crucial mistakes that cost them a chance to become the first team to take the Bulls to a seventh game in a championship series. They didn't get the chance, even though they didn't allow Jordan to beat them as he did in Games 1, 2 and 5. This time, when the Bulls needed a tiebreaking shot in the final few seconds, Jordan passed to Kerr. The pass came with the clock ticking inside seven seconds and the shot clock down to :02. Kerr, left alone as the Jazz double-teamed Jordan, sank an 18-footer to break an 86-all tie, the ball snapping the net as the shot clock hit zero. It wasn't the game-breaking shot everyone always envisions when it comes to the Bulls, but that didn't matter to anyone in Chicago. "At the last timeout, I was sitting down by Mike, watching him," Kerr said. "He sat there for about 30 seconds, then he turned to me and said, `Be ready, Stockton's coming off me.' I said OK, I'll make it." The winning shot was reminiscent of John Paxson's 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left that gave Chicago a 99-98 victory in the '93 title-clinching sixth game against the Phoenix Suns. But in that game, it was Horace Grant, not Jordan, who made the pass for the winning shot. "It's tough to live up to John Paxson and what he did," said Kerr, who blew kisses to the crowd after the game. "I'm just glad I made one of those big shots." But the Bulls still needed one more stop. After another timeout, the Jazz had to inbound at midcourt with five seconds left. Bryon Russell tried to throw a long pass, but Toni Kukoc tipped it and Utah never regained possession. Scottie Pippen dived for the loose ball, tipping it ahead to Kukoc, who streaked downcourt for a dunk just before the buzzer sounded. …

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