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Bulls' lack of focus has Jordan worried

Michael Jordan an alarmist? The NBA's headline act certainly didn't open Wednesday night's NBA Finals rematch like a guy about to push the panic button. Jordan was too busy helping the Bulls jump out to a 24-point lead over the Jazz. He was so dominant, in fact, that it took Utah 14 minutes to outscore him. And by then, Chicago was ahead 41-17 with less than 10 minutes to play in the first half.

The Bulls, however, began to lose their focus.Teammate Scottie Pippen blamed the officials.

"All the opportunities we had were sort of pulled away," he said after Chicago's second loss to Utah (101-93) in 10 days. "The officials took control of the game and really allowed their fans to get into it and control the tempo. It was very difficult to stay in the game at that time."

Jordan didn't buy it, though. He said the Bulls blew it by not having a killer instinct.

"We're getting into a danger zone. Teams are never going to give up," Jordan said after Utah's comeback. "That's something that has to change."

The Bulls star, who finished with a game-high 40 points, is frustrated.

Jordan is concerned that the two-time defending NBA champions are losing their focus. He fears it could start affecting his team's effort and drive for a third consecutive NBA championship.

"We can't have a couple of people want it," Jordan said. "It has to be a collective effort."

The NBA All-Star break, he told dozens of reporters gathered around his locker in the Delta Center, couldn't have come at a better time. The Bulls need time to clear their minds, step back and re-focus.

"We flunked the test," Jordan said as Chicago ended a 10-day stretch that included two losses to the Jazz and one to the Lakers. "You can sit here and say it's the regular season and it doesn't matter. Well, it does matter in a sense.

"When you have to raise your level of intensity to match teams that are trying to take something away from you, I think the attitude of this team is just a little too passive," Jordan said. "If they are thinking we can turn it on in the playoffs, that's a dangerous attitude to have."

The implications could spell trouble down the road.

"(Utah has) proven they can beat us in our building. And they've proven they can beat us here. We lost our serve and we've certainly lost our set," Jordan said. "Hopefully we won't think about that if we have to face this team again in the playoffs."

And for the record, Jordan thinks the Jazz will once again prevail in the West.

"I believe that mentally," he said, "they have the focus."