Maestro MJ soars; Jazz hits flat note


X-factor: Jazz totally off-key

Frozen moment: His Airness soars again

Jazz buzz: Utah disgusted with Game 2

Bulls buzz: Partner in crime robs Jordan

Game 2 shot charts

Pregame notebook

NBA Finals page


Michael Jordan looks ahead to Game 3.
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Jordan sums up the importance of the Game 2 win.
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Scottie Pippen reinjured his foot in the opening minutes.
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Karl Malone is his own worst critic.
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John Stockton says Chicago's defense was key.
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Jerry Sloan says the Bulls broke Utah's will.
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Dr. Jack Ramsay explains why the Bulls will have to travel with their "A" game.
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan was one assist shy of a triple-double and the Chicago Bulls turned in a strong effort on defense to beat the Utah Jazz 97-85 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals.

Mr. Everything: Michael Jordan had 38 points, nearly doubling Karl Malone's output (20). MJ also had more assists (9) than John Stockton did (7) and equaled Malone's rebound total (13).

Doomsday defense: Utah, which led the NBA by shooting 50 percent during the regular season, barely managed to hit 40 percent against Chicago on Wednesday. "As well as some people think they played offensively," Stockton said of the Bulls, "I think the key was the defense."

Jordan finished with 38 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. He shot 11 for 20 from the field and made 15 of 21 from the foul line.

"I was penetrating quite a bit," Jordan said. "I anticipated them to double me at certain points in time in the offense. I was able to get some fouls, and I made 15 (free throws). I wish I made more."

Game 3 will be Friday in Salt Lake City.

Chicago is two victories away from its fifth championship in the past seven years. Utah will try to become the first team since Portland in 1977 to win the title after losing the first two games of the Finals .

"We've got to regroup," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We have to think about how important it is for us to compete, first of all, and not let someone destroy your will to win.

"I've always been amazed how easy it is to intimidate people in this business," Sloan said. "I thought we were intimidated right from the beginning of the game."

Utah matched the worst second quarter and the second-worst first half in Finals history. A late flurry made the final score somewhat respectable.

shot chart
The second quarter was miserable for Utah, which shot 4 for 17. Click here for complete shot charts of Game 2.

"They were very active and quick to the ball. They put on a defensive clinic," said Utah's John Stockton, who was just four for 12 from the field. "They beat us to cuts and showed out on screens. They were helping each other."

Utah scored only 11 points in the second quarter, tying the mark set by Chicago in Game 4 of last year's Finals. Utah's 31 first-half points were one better than the all-time low set by Houston against Boston in 1981.

"Our pressure was good," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "We were deflecting balls. We were active with our hands and we made it difficult to get the ball where they wanted it on the offensive end."

Utah's Karl Malone was just three for 12 in the first half and finished with 20 points on six-for-20 shooting.

"I'm stinking it up right now as a whole," Malone said. "I don't have any excuses; I'm just not playing well. Tonight was terrible.

"I think my teammates feed off the energy I bring to the offensive and defensive end," he said. "When I don't bring that, they don't. I'm just embarrassed."

"I'm sure he'll be battered and beaten because of the expectations of being the MVP," Jordan said of Malone. "But our defense has a lot to do with what he's dealing with."

Scottie Pippen elevates to swat a Karl Malone shot.

Jeff Hornacek scored 19 points and Stockton added 14 for Utah, which never led and trailed by as many as 22 points.

Ron Harper scored 13 points for the Bulls and played superb defense against Stockton. Scottie Pippen added 10 points and six rebounds.

After contributing 27 points and nine rebounds in Game 1, Pippen's productivity was curbed Wednesday when he aggravated an injury to his left foot.

On Utah's first possession of the game, Pippen blocked a Bryon Russell shot attempt and landed awkwardly. He limped back into the action and managed to play 39 minutes.

"I went to block his shot from behind him and I just had a bad landing," Pippen said. "It pretty much took me out of my game, had me frustrated. I wanted to be more aggressive."

Jordan hit a jumper after Pippen's block. Pippen and Luc Longley scored inside to give Chicago a quick 6-0 lead.

"We panicked right at the beginning of the game," Sloan said. "They had a lot more energy than the other night and I expected them to. I expected us to compete a little harder."

Malone went to the foul line 1:33 into the game and missed both free throws. But the Jazz regrouped and closed to 14-13 on two free throws by Stockton with 4:41 to go.

Michael Jordan drives against Chris Morris.

Jordan -- who was five for 42 from 3-point range in the playoffs -- made a 3-pointer and jumper and Steve Kerr connected on a pair of 3-pointers, opening the advantage to 25-15 with 1:33 left.

But the Bulls went without a basket for the next seven minutes. Jordan ended the field-goal drought on a jumper with 6:31 left in the half, but Chris Morris made a 3-pointer and Malone got loose inside, bringing Utah to within two points, 31-29, with 5:16 left.

The Bulls then clamped down on defense during a 16-2 spurt that closed the half. Stockton was harassed by Harper on the perimeter and trapped along the baseline. Pippen blocked Malone, forcing a 24-second violation. Jordan stepped in front of a pick-and-roll pass for a steal.

"Utah is a much better team when they can run, break, move the ball and get some easy shots, easy baskets," Jordan said. "We haven't allowed that here in the East, which has been a great focus point for us. I think that's one of the reasons we've been so successful so far."

Utah shot 31 percent (11 for 35) and missed six of 14 foul shots in the first half.

In the third quarter, the Jazz remained cold and Jordan stayed hot. Utah paraded to the foul line for 13 points but struggled from the field. Hornacek's jumper with 8:48 to play ended a field-goal drought of nearly 8½ minutes.

The Bulls equaled their largest lead at 70-48 with 2:32 remaining in the third period.

The only interest in the final quarter was Jordan's pursuit of the triple-double. He finished with nine assists, however, as Pippen blew a wide-open layup with 3½ minutes left, a 3-pointer with 2:15 to go and a jumper in the lane a minute later -- all of which would have given Jordan his 10th assist.

When asked if he knew how close he was to a triple-double, Jordan joked, "Pippen made me aware of it when he missed that layup."

"I should have made the layup," Pippen admitted.

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