Running Bulls roll to win over Lakers, 107-86

June 06, 1991|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Everybody got to play for the Chicago Bulls last night. Superstar Michael Jordan invited his teammates to join in the fun, as the Bulls evened the NBA championship series, 1-1, by routing the Los Angeles Lakers, 107-86.

Apparently stung by Jordan's suggestion that his supporting cast was not ready to respond to the pressure, John Paxson (8-for-8 from the field), Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright put in prime-time performances to avenge the 93-91, opening-game loss at home. The Bulls hit 67 percent of their shots.

Jordan still led the Bulls, scoring 33 points on 15-for-18 shooting. Jordan also had 13 assists.

The best-of-seven series shifts to Los Angeles for the next three contests with Game 3 tomorrow night at The Forum.

The Lakers, who dictated the slow tempo in the first game, playing an effective post-up game, managed to make a game of it for only a half last night, trailing, 52-45.

But the Bulls got their fast break back in gear in second half, with Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the charge. When they weren't inciting the sellout crowd of 18,676 with gravity-defying shots, Paxson and Grant were breaking free for open jumpers or layups.

The Lakers simply had no antidote, as Magic Johnson looked all too human. Only second-year center Vlade Divac showed any offensive consistency. Defensively, the Lakers appeared a step slow and out of sync.

The Bulls, who admitted to "opening-night jitters," came out in game two with increased defensive intensity. But their early trapping defense backfired because of Magic's extraordinary court vision.

Johnson consistently found the open man, first Divac for a backdoor layup and then Byron Scott for an uncontested three-point shot to build a 9-6 lead.

Meanwhile, Jordan seemed intent on getting his Bulls teammates more involved in the offense. He did not take a shot in the first four minutes while center Cartwright and power forward Grant got untracked.

Cartwright contributed three baskets and Grant scored two to push the home team ahead, 14-9. The Bulls exhibited crisp ball movement, taking advantage of the Lakers whenever they double-teamed Jordan.

The Lakers regrouped to pull into an 18-18 tie with James Worthy scoring five points. Pippen made a drive in the lane, but on the defensive end, Jordan picked up his second personal foul with four minutes left in the first quarter. Pippen switched to policing Johnson.

But Chicago continued to break free for layups. Jordan, limiting himself to one shot, was piling up the assists as the Bulls hit 12 of their first 16 shots to pad their lead to 26-18.

After one quarter, Chicago led, 28-23, with Grant scoring 10 points. Divac topped the Lakers with eight. Surprisingly, Jordan had only two points and Johnson was scoreless.

The Lakers, going back to their post-up strategy, began whittling away at the Bulls lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter.

They capitalized on the Sam Perkins-Will Purdue matchup. Perkins converted a running hook and fall-away jumper to trim the deficit to 32-31.

With eight minutes left in the half, Magic took his first rest. It lasted only two minutes. With Johnson penetrating the lane, Divac broke free underneath for a pair of stuffs as the Lakers moved ahead, 37-36.

Jordan then became airborne for the first time in the game, making a floater in the lane and a slam dunk to reclaim the lead, 40-37. Taking charge, Jordan scored four straight hoops for the Bulls. But Paxson scored the last two in the quarter to give Chicago a 48-43 cushion at halftime.

The Bulls had the best of the first-half statistics. They made 58 percent of their field goal attempts compared to 44 percent for the Lakers. They also out-rebounded the Western champions, 21-14. The two guards -- Jordan and Johnson, led their teams with six rebounds apiece.

The teams matched shots in the first three minutes of the second half as the Bulls lead fluctuated between five and seven points.

But they got more breathing room after Scott got called for a flagrant foul on Pippen's breakaway.

Pippen converted two free throws and the Bulls kept possession of the ball. Cartwright jammed home a layup to boost the Bulls advantage to 62-51.

Johnson blew two straight layups, but Worthy kept the Lakers within range at 66-57 by hitting three outside shots.

But Jordan answered with four baskets of his own, plus a free throw to stretch the margin to 73-59. The Bulls were doing a better job of forcing Magic to give up the ball and the Lakers offense became tentative.

Even when Jordan took a brief rest, the Bulls continued to roll. Paxson, rookie forward Scott Williams and Pippen scored to provide a 79-61 cushion as the noise level became deafening in )) the old arena.

THE 1991 NBA FINALS

+!L.A. Lakers 93, Chicago Bulls 91

Chicago Bulls 107, L.A. Lakers 86

Tomorrow, at L.A., 9 p.m., Chs. 2, 4

Sunday, at Lakers, 7 p.m., Chs. 2, 4

Tuesday, at Lakers, 9 p.m.*, Chs. 2, 4

June 14, at Chi., 9 p.m.*, Chs. 2, 4

June 16, at Chi., 7 p.m.*, Chs. 2, 4

* -- if necessary.

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