Bulls put the whip to Knicks Chicago gets back in series, 103-83

May 30, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan has taken a vow of silence for the remainder of the playoffs, but the Chicago superstar and his Bulls teammates delivered a powerful message yesterday, routing the New York Knicks, 103-83, in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals before a roaring crowd of 18,676.

Putting aside the uproar over Jordan's trip to an Atlantic City, N.J., casino Monday night and a subsequent team-wide media boycott, the Bulls displayed poise in beating the Knicks in every phase of the game.

The Knicks, who won the first two rough-and-tumble games at Madison Square Garden, still lead, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series, which resumes here tomorrow (3:30 p.m.).

But their confidence and bravado had to be slightly shaken as the Bulls thoroughly whipped them.

After his players, rebelling against negative publicity, declined to be interviewed after Friday's practice, Bulls coach Phil Jackson said, "We'll do our talking on the court."

They did that and more as Jordan, an uncharacteristic 3-for-18 from the field, found a strong supporting cast in Scottie Pippen (a game-high 29 points), reserve guard John Paxson (14 points) and B. J. Armstrong (11).

Jordan, who declined to be interviewed after the game, finished with 22 points by converting 16 of 17 free throws and contributed a game-high 11 assists. He also got into a confrontation with the hotheaded John Starks early in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks guard was ejected after drawing two quick technicals.

By that time, however, the Bulls were in command (88-65) and all the fight went out of the Knicks, who had dominated the first two games with their physical play and relentless rebounding.

"They had their day," said Knicks coach Pat Riley. "After being down 2-0, the Bulls were hanging by their thumbs in city square. But they bounced back like champions and kicked our butts."

This game was actually settled in the first half, when the Bulls, except for Jordan, made 17 of 24 field-goal attempts to take a 62-43 lead.

"The bottom line," said Knicks guard Doc Rivers, "is that if Jordan gets into the paint, he's either going to score or get fouled."

Riley had promised his team would maintain its tenacity despite the hostile crowd and environment of Chicago Stadium, recognized as the noisiest building in the NBA. But the Knicks appeared to lose their poise quickly as Chicago's trapping defense took them out of their half-court offense and patented pick-and-roll plays.

"We didn't come out with the same intensity and force we displayed in the first two games," said center Patrick Ewing (21 points), who was the only Knick to show offensive consistency. "We didn't play our typical defense or play with any energy."

Charles Oakley, the physical power forward who had grabbed a combined 30 rebounds in the first two games, was held to eight, and sidekick Anthony Mason was limited to five as the Bulls minimized the Knicks' second-chance attempts.

"I thought the Knicks came out kind of tentative and we kept them on their heels for most of the first half," said Jackson. "We forced them to start their offense near half-court. That limited their pick plays, and our pressure kept them off the boards."

The Knicks, the No. 1 defensive team in the league, had even less success in stopping the Bulls offense.

Constantly double-teamed, Jordan consistently found the open man, and Pippen responded with his slashing moves while Paxson and Armstrong kept the Knicks off balance with their outside shooting.

"They had everything working for them," said Riley. "You can't give them as many offensive options and open perimeter shots as we did, or you're going to be in for a very long day."

The Bulls maintained steady pressure in the second half, rolling to an 87-64 lead after three quarters before the game deteriorated into a shoving and woofing match, with Starks seemingly in the middle of every argument.

Starks, an explosive scorer who capped New York's second-game victory with a spectacular dunk, engaged the Bulls superstar with words, bumps and shoves, leading to his ejection with just over nine minutes remaining.

"Jordan put an elbow into my face," said Starks. "When you're a man, you can't let them do that."

Riley was quick to downplay the dramatic turnabout by the Bulls, seeking their third consecutive championship.

"We've had eight or nine days with big wins and no misery," he said. "Now, we'll just put this game behind us. Each game is just like a chapter in a continuing story. Game 4 will take on a different theme, and, hopefully, we'll have a happier ending."

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