Jordan lets 54 do the talking in 105-95 win over Knicks Victory pulls Bulls even in Eastern finals, 2-2

June 01, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- For the past few days, James Jordan has been holding news conferences on behalf of his famous son, trying to ease the media pressure surrounding the Chicago Bulls superstar during the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

But Michael Jordan showed no signs of pressure once he stepped on the basketball court at Chicago Stadium yesterday. Breaking a three-game shooting slump, he scored 54 points to lead the defending champion Bulls to a 105-95 victory over the New York Knicks.

In defending their home turf, the Bulls evened the best-of-seve series, 2-2. Game 5 is tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks won the first two games and have won 27 in a row.

Jordan, who had shot 44 percent (25-for-57) from the field in th first three games, regained his shooting touch at a propitious time. He made 18 of 30 shots, including six of nine from three-point range.

told Michael that sometimes he can be as valuable making 10 or more assists as scoring 30 points," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "But obviously I can't say that when he scores over 50.

"Today, the Knicks closed down on our perimeter shooters -- John Paxson, B. J. Armstrong and Trent Tucker. But when Michael is that hot, it doesn't matter what happens. He's in a different space than everyone else."

Reminded of Jordan's play-making role (11 assists) in Game 3, Knicks coach Pat Riley said: "Today, Mike was passing the ball right through the basket."

Jordan, who has turned silent after reports of his visit to an Atlantic City, N.J., casino before Game 2 and remained so after yesterday's victory, hit eight straight shots in one third-quarter stretch.

But not until he deked Doc Rivers into the air and made a floating jumper for a 99-90 lead with 1:36 remaining could the capacity Chicago Stadium crowd of 18,676 feel confident about a win.

In no way did this resemble Saturday's 20-point romp by the Bulls. Every time Chicago built a comfortable lead, the Knicks, led by John Starks and Patrick Ewing (24 points each), would scratch theirway back.

"This was a real dogfight," said Jackson. "They kept making runs at us, but Michael bailed us out with a bunch of great shots."

Chicago led 90-79 on a field goal by Jordan with 10:47 left. Buthe Bulls would make only one basket in the next eight minutes while New York closed to 94-90.

The scoring drought not too coincidentally occurred while Jordan was on the bench with five fouls. But with the game slipping away, Jordan returned and joined Scottie Pippen to help put the game away.

Pippen, who scored a game-high 29 in Game 3, was held to 13 yesterday on 4-for-14 shooting. But after Charles Oakley's free throw made it 94-90, Pippen delivered a spectacular three-point play.

With the 24-second clock expiring and under heavy defensive pressure by Anthony Mason, Pippen fell back and released a high-floating jump shot. As Pippen's momentum carried him to the floor, the ball swished through the net. Mason was called for a foul, and Pippen converted for a 97-90 cushion.

"That was a big shot," said Jackson. "Anything under seven points and a coach loses his comfort zone."

Jordan never left his comfort zone with his performance that established an all-time playoff scoring record against the Knicks.

"He was in a zone," said Riley. "Amazingly, of all his field goals, only one was a layup. If he was going to the basket more often, we would have tried to trap him. But he was shooting those long-range jumpers and making them even though Starks had a hand in his face.

But in spite of all that, we had great opportunities to pull this one out," Riley added. "But we missed crucial shots and free throws, and just couldn't get over the hump."

With two of three games in New York, the Knicks are confident.

"We didn't have to win in Chicago," Ewing said. "That's what the home-court advantage is all about."

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