CHICAGO -- The Philadelphia 76ers roared into Chicago a few days ago, thumping and bumping like a big locomotive and steaming to get at the Bulls.
But the Bulls left the 76ers hauling a trainload of doubts home across an unsure landscape after winning, 112-100, last night at Chicago Stadium to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"Now they've got to play not to lose," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "And that makes it a different situation. They've got to carry their home court to continue the series."
If the Bulls continue to rebound the way they did last night, it will be the end of the line for the 76ers. The Bulls out-rebounded the 76ers, 42-27.
"We just need to do a better job on the boards," said Charles Barkley, who had 20 points but only nine rebounds. "[Bill] Cartwright and [Will] Perdue are definitely hurting us [a combined eight offensive rebounds and 21 points to four points for the 76ers' centers], and we need to keep them off the offensive boards."
But the 76ers couldn't, and it left them with questions that need to be answered.
"In the first part of the game, they tried to intimidate us, flagrant fouls, throwing elbows here and there, talking a lot of trash," said Michael Jordan, who led the Bulls with 29 points and nine assists. "We accepted it and stayed to our game plan, and down the stretch I think they realized we wouldn't crumble, that we're going to come at them, hit them hard on the boards, everyone playing good defense and taking good shots.
"We sent a message to them," added Jordan. "It was that 'We're not going to sit here and out-talk you.' We can't do that. Basically, we're going to outplay you."
The Bulls did that throughout the game, shooting 57 percent to 48 percent for the 76ers. They led by nine points at halftime, by 11 after three quarters and never by fewer than five.
The 76ers, though, made a surge. They were led by Hersey Hawkins' 30 points and 22 from Armon Gilliam.
Trailing 91-79 with nine minutes left, Philadelphia twice cut the lTC Bulls' lead to five, first with just under five minutes to go and later with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left.
But Horace Grant, with 11 points and 10 rebounds, including a monstrous seven on the offensive boards, came through for the Bulls.
"This is the playoffs," Grant said. "You have to go for it all. Like Chuck Person did [against the Boston Celtics Sunday] when he threw up that three-pointer. He didn't want it to go into overtime, and I didn't want them to beat us. The opportunity presented itself to me, and I went to my specialty, which is rebounding."
But if Grant was special, so was Scottie Pippen, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Pippen converted one of two free throws to give the Bulls a 99-93 lead with 4:33 left. Then Ron Anderson missed a drive. Jordan then hit a flying scoop shot across the lane for a 101-93 Bulls lead. Jordan was assessed a technical foul when he claimed it should have been a three-point play.
"I felt I got fouled," said Jordan. "I went back down court and said that was your call Wally [Rooney] and I looked at him in a derogatory way and he blew the whistle."
Hawkins hit the free throw, but Barkley missed a jumper.
Grant then got the first of his offensive rebounds, grabbing a Jordan miss and getting credit for a basket on a Barkley goaltending.
That made it 103-94 Bulls.
Gilliam then hit a jumper. Pippen missed, Grant rebounded, but Pippen committed a turnover.
"Horace did a great job out there," said Pippen. "I thought he might be frustrated by Barkley [playing against Grant at the time], but he kept the ball alive for us."