JAZZ NOTEBOOKIf what it took to get to this point means anything, the Jazz are a lock to win Game 7.
They had by far the harder playoff path, facing first the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the West's two hottest teams entering the postseason. That series went the full five games, and then came the San Antonio Spurs, the West's other hottest team at season's end. The Jazz clipped the Spurs in six."Its not like we had any cakewalks," said Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek. "We played in some tough games."
The Sonics, on the other hand, opened the postseason with a one-man Sacramento team that was just lucky to be in the playoffs, and Seattle still struggled at the start. But a come-from-behind win in Game 3 of that series started a six-game Sonics win streak that included a four-game sweep of the defending champion Rockets. Houston, however, was a mere shadow of the team that won a title last spring, and the Sonics dominated the Rockets in the regular season.
At the start of the Western Conference Finals, it appeared the Jazz might go the way of the Rockets, too. But once they got a couple days to prepare, the Jazz figured out the Sonics' defense, and this series has been dominated by Utah since.
"We've picked up confidence the last two games," said Jazz center Felton Spencer.
QUOTEBOOK: Predictably, Jazz coach Jerry Sloan had no prediction for how Game 7 might go: "You never know what 12 guys are going to do," he said."
Spencer was almost guilty of looking ahead - a Jazz sin - when he said, "Chicago would be nice this time of year, but we're not looking past Seattle yet."
Hornacek said this Game 7 situation reminds him of being at Iowa State: "It's like (NCAA) tournament time in college. You have to win one to advance."
John Stockton, asked after Game 6 about something Sloan said, admitted that he couldn't remember. Then he added: "Over the course of a couple of days there's a lot of things coach says. You have to take what you can use and do the best you can."
Seattle forward Shawn Kemp had his best outing of the series in Game 6, and Karl Malone said it didn't bother him one bit. "He had his best game and we still won. I wouldn't mind if he had his best game Sunday, if we win."
Malone, who has appeared loose and relaxed throughout the playoffs, admitted to feeling a little edge now that a longtime goal is in sight. "It's kind of a nervous feeling, knowing you're so close," he said.