PHILADELPHIA -- Walking back to the hotel Friday night Horace Grant wasn't in a good mood. His team, the Chicago Bulls, had lost Game 3 of its Eastern Division semifinals to the Philadelphia 76ers and Grant, a third-year forward from Clemson, had been outplayed badly by Armon Gilliam.
But Grant's mood, along with his outlook, changed when he happened on a homeless man sitting outside a church. "I asked him if he was scared, and he said that he wasn't," recalled Grant, who put the man up at a hotel for the night. "I wanted to help him any way I could."
Grant's philanthropy took a different form yesterday. He gave the Bulls a needed lift inside against the 76ers, pounding the offensive boards early and often en route to a 22-point, 11-rebound performance in Chicago's 101-85 rout at The Spectrum. The victory gave the Bulls a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"I was going to the boards regardless," Grant said. "But they didn't block me out like they did Friday night."
It was one of many things Philadelphia failed to do. Except for Charles Barkley, who scored 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting and pulled down 14 rebounds, it was a horrific afternoon for the 76ers. For a while, it looked as if their point total wouldn't reach their nickname.
"The two things I would cite that crushed us are their offensive boards and, at the other end, we could not hit a shot," said Philadelphia coach Jim Lynam, whose team must play tomorrow in Chicago. "They shot only 48 percent, but they killed us with second shots."
Many of them came from Grant, who had seven of 17 offensive rebounds for Chicago. Six of Grant's offensive boards came in the first half, when the Bulls opened a 52-38 lead. The 76ers closed to within 10 points early in the second half before Chicago stretched it out to as many as 23.
Grant's effort -- the kind he typically showed in the Atlantic Coast Conference -- might have resulted also from a one-on-one talk he had Saturday with Bulls coach Phil Jackson. The chat was precipitated by Grant's dislike at being chewed out by Jackson after Friday night's game.
"He thought I was getting bumped around," said Grant. "But I thought we lost as a team, just like we won as a team today."
One of the reasons Chicago took a 3-1 series lead, aside from Philadelphia's apparently unperspiring effort, was that Michael Jordan didn't have to do nearly as much. After scoring a 1991 National Basketball Association playoff-high 46 points, but missing some crucial free throws in Friday night's 99-97 defeat, Jordan showed again that he could do more than score.
"We definitely played well enough to win," said Jordan, who while scoring 25 points was more impressive passing the ball (12 assists) than shooting it (11 of 27). "It was a good team effort. We came to do what we had to do. We wanted to at least escape with one game here. Now we can go home and finish it up."
The question is, which Sixers will show up to face them?
Gilliam, who had playoff highs of 25 points and 11 rebounds in Game 3, had eight points (on three-of-12 shooting) and five rebounds yesterday. Hersey Hawkins followed up his 29-point performance with 15, but most of those came with the game out of reach. Hawkins, whose three-point shot won Friday's game, didn't attempt a single three-pointer yesterday.
"Those things happen when you're out of sync," said Hawkins, who was defended by Jordan most of the game. "We tried to score with one guy at a time. There was never a time when two or three guys were scoring."
Conversely, there never was a time when the Bulls didn't look as if they were trying to get the ball to someone other than Jordan. Forward Scottie Pippen finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Chicago got 20 points and 14 rebounds from its bench after only eight points and five rebounds Friday.
"That was our game plan from Jump Street," said Pippen. "And Horace did a great job."
Both on, and off the court.