Unstoppable Jordan turns back Bullets Bull scores 57 in 107-98 victory

December 24, 1992|By Paul Ladewski | Paul Ladewski,Contributing Writer

CHICAGO -- 2or three-plus quarters last night, it appeared the Washington Bullets were on the verge of pulling off the unthinkable.

That is, a victory at Chicago Stadium, something they hadn't done since April 5, 1988.

Trouble is, Michael Jordan scored 57 points, refusing to play the willing victim. And the rest of the Chicago Bulls wouldn't fade away, either.

The Bullets watched a 90-83 lead go by the boards in the last seven minutes of a 107-98 setback, one that stretched their losing streak to eight.

When the smoke had cleared, the Bullets were outscored 22-5 in the final 7:11 of regulation.

"If I was open, I was going to take the shot. I had my rhythm tonight. I wanted to shoot out of the slump. I was going to die shooting," said Jordan.

Said Bullets coach Wes Unseld: "It was a case of them coming down the floor and Michael [Jordan] creating the rest. We tried to stop him, but you know that he's going to get his points."

Actually, the Bullets were in deep trouble even before the contest started.

In his previous start against Miami, Jordan missed his first 11 field-goal attempts and was limited to three points in three quarters. The day Jordan has back-to-back stinkers is the day that the equator freezes over.

"We knew Michael hadn't been shooting well," the Bullets' Tom Gugliotta said of Jordan's mini-slump. "We knew he would come out focused and make a statement. He just killed us."

This time Jordan scored 28 in the second half. Horace Grant scored 11, and Scottie Pippen added 10.

Harvey Grant paced a balanced Bullets attack with 20. Pervis Ellison added 19, Rex Chapman 15 and Gugliotta 14.

As it turned out, the Bulls' offense was even more balanced: Jordan, Jordan and more Jordan.

With Jordan being rested at the outset of the fourth quarter, the Bullets made their biggest move of the evening.

Ellison and reserve Larry Stewart combined for five field goals without an answer as the Bullets stunned the home team with an 11-0 run to take an 89-83 lead.

The Bulls didn't score until 7:11 was left in the quarter when -- guess who? -- Jordan hit a fadeaway jumper and free throw. Then Jordan followed with a short turnaround.

Unseld promptly called a timeout -- to no avail.

Saddled with early foul trouble, Pippen scored his first basket since the opening quarter to forge a 90-90 tie. Then Pippen did the same off a feed from Jordan to give the Bulls a 92-90 lead they never lost.

Pippen followed with a third straight basket before Chapman momentarily stopped the surge, but it was too late.

The Bullets' 7-18 record is one game worse than at the same point last season.

"Youth is not an excuse since most of our players have four or five years' experience in the league," Chapman said. "We made some mistakes down the stretch that hurt us. We should have known better and handled it."

The Bullets' strategy appeared to be to let Jordan get his, and hold his teammates to the bare minimum.For the most part, it worked.

When Jordan scored the Bulls' opening eight points of the third quarter, he had scored 37 of his team's 63 points at that point. Yet the Bulls could do no better than a 63-61 lead.

Twice the Bullets took three-point leads, but they couldn't build on either one. After Grant's basket upped the advantage to 70-67, the Bulls converted seven straight points.

Jordan's three-point play put the Bulls on top, 74-70, but Ellison, Grant and Gugliotta combined for five free throws to overturn the deficit.

Jordan closed the period with a five-point barrage as the Bulls took an 83-79 lead.

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