CHICAGO -- Superman took yesterday off. And the metropolis known as Chicago didn't crumble. Instead, it was the two-time defending champion Detroit Pistons who succumbed to the Bulls, 94-83, in the Eastern Conference final opener, on an afternoon in which Michael Jordan was a mere mortal.
"I don't think we've ever won a playoff game from Detroit where he didn't have a featured role," Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson said of his star guard.
Jordan finished with 22 points, 10 below his playoff average, hitting six of 15 from the floor, with seven points in the second half. Jordan had six assists and three steals, but he grabbed only three rebounds and committed six turnovers.
"I did not have a particularly good game," he said.
The Pistons were afforded a rare opportunity to steal one at Chicago Stadium. But they couldn't do it.
"I thought it was a game to steal," Pistons coach Chuck Daly said. "I thought they truly were in a position to get beat today because I didn't think they played that great. We just couldn't get enough going."
The Bulls delivered a surprising message, not in holding their home-court advantage, but how they accomplished it. The deciding surge, at the final quarter's outset, was orchestrated by their second unit -- with Jordan, Scottie Pippen (18 points) and Bill Cartwright (16 points, nine rebounds) watching from the bench.
The Bulls took a three-point lead into the final quarter. A 13-7 run by the reserves increased it to 81-72, effectively throttling the Pistons.
"You have to give our supporting cast a lot of credit," Jordan said. "I didn't have a great game. I think you have to look at it as an all-around team instead of a one-man situation. I think our team proved we're well-balanced and other guys can give contributions."
"Their bench also played well," Pistons guard Joe Dumars said. "They came in and didn't let up at all either maintaining or building up the lead. They stepped up and that was the key to their winning.