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For Utah, `One game at a time’ is not just cliche

SHARE For Utah, `One game at a time’ is not just cliche

After the Jazz nipped the Bulls in Game 1, Utah's then-starting center, Greg Foster, only half-jokingly said that he wished the NBA Finals were like the Super Bowl. Win one game and the title's yours.

If that were true, Foster and the rest of the Jazz would have already had tan lines around their championship ring fingers.What a difference a week makes.

Three heart-wrenching losses later, the Jazz find themselves in an ominous hole no other team has ever climbed out of in NBA history - down 3-1, and against the defending champions no less.

The Jazz - as has come out of their mouths often during the past eight months - are saying they are going to take the rest of this series "one game at a time."

It sounded like a cliche in November and March and even in the first couple of rounds in the playoffs. But now it's fitting. One game is all they've got left. Unless they shock everybody and actually win tonight, that is.

"It's all about trying to win that one game," said Jazz backup Chris Morris.

"Our big concern is to try to win another game," said Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek. "We just want to win the next game and take it to Salt Lake, and you never know what'll happen. You're going back to your home court, and if we win the game, we may pick up some momentum. We'll have the home crowd going for us, and anything's possible. But it's not possible if we don't win (tonight)."

Coach Jerry Sloan said this is the time for his team to show what they're made of.

"If you have got any competitive blood left in your body after getting beat three games," said Sloan, "I'd think you want to say `I'm going to lay it all out there between the lines and see if we are going to have any left, or come with some extra.' That's pretty simple to me."

And to his players.

"We've got to go out and do it," Foster said before the Jazz practiced Thursday at the United Center. "We've been talking about this, we've been changing this, changing that, and still, when it's all said and done, we've got to go out there and play."

Or go home silver-medalists for the second year in a row.

"We felt confident coming into the series," said Jazz backup guard Shandon Anderson. "If we were to lose (tonight), we'd lose 4-1 in a series in which I don't think we really competed as hard as we did last year. It would put a sour note on the entire season."

LEAVING A LEGACY: The Jazz have had a great run in the Stockton and Malone era, but Foster was perplexed when a reporter suggested the Jazz's "legacy" could be at risk with a loss in these Finals.

"Legacy?" he asked incredulously. "We haven't won any championships. How can you have a legacy when you haven't won any championships? They have a legacy."

DOUBLE TROUBLE: A lot of people have questioned the Jazz's unwavering philosophy of using just one person to defend Michael Jordan. Sloan isn't having second thoughts about that decision, though.

"I think we played Michael Jordan fairly decent," he said. "They shot a lot of free throws, and I don't think if we had doubled him that would have made a big difference. I think they probably would have gotten more easy baskets, and they missed a lot of free throws, so we stayed pretty much straight on that."

Perhaps they should consider doubling Dennis Rodman on the free-throw line?

THE WAY THE BULL BOUNCES: The Bulls might not have as much overall talent as the Jazz do, but they've undoubtedly won the hustle game. Proof? Chicago has outrebounded Utah 171-158 overall and 55-40 on the offensive end. The Bulls also have a 38-24 edge in the steals category.

"They've beaten us to every spot, beaten us to the ball every time," said Morris. "They're getting the offensive rebound. They know where the ball's going to bounce. Sometimes you try to get the inside position and all of a sudden the ball bounces long and you're out of position."