Bulls nip Bullets, 84-83

January 20, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- It appeared, at least briefly, that the streak was over. With less than two minutes to play, the Washington Bullets had a six-point lead at Chicago Stadium -- and Michael Jordan, though in attendance, wasn't about to bail out the Bulls from his seat in the stands.

But on this night, late contributions from Scottie Pippen anSteve Kerr were more than adequate. Pippen scored five straight points to pull Chicago within one, and Kerr's three-pointer with 23.2 seconds left gave the Bulls an 84-83 win last night before a sellout crowd of 17,853.

It was the 11th straight loss for Washington at Chicago Stadiumwhere the Bullets haven't won since 1988. It was also Washington's second loss to Chicago in less than two weeks, extending the Bullets' losing streak to the Bulls to 13 games.

For Chicago, it wasn't pretty. But the clutch performance down the stretch showed why the Bulls, who have won 15 straight at home, are about even with their pace of last season when Jordan was in the process of leading them to their third straight NBA championship.

"You know the old saying 'winning covers a mountain of sins?' Chicago coach Phil Jackson said. " 'And losing creates mountains out of mole hills?' "

What the philosophical Jackson means was the Bulls were flatand deserved to lose the game.

Perhaps the sub-zero temperatures had an effect early on th Bulls, who scored just 36 points in the first half. It was the fewest points the Bullets have allowed in the first half this season (the New York Knicks scored 43 on Nov. 10).

Even with 1.1 seconds left, the Bullets had a shot to win. Tom Gugliotta (20 points, 15 rebounds) threw an inbounds lob pass near the rim to Kenny Walker. The pass was off the mark, allowing the Bulls to escape.

"It's a play usually run for me, with Rex [Chapman] throwing thball," Gugliotta said. "It was a good play. I couldn't get a good look at [Walker] over [Bulls center] Will Perdue. The pass was a little off."

Perhaps with Chapman passing and Gugliotta catching, the plawould have worked. But the Bullets will have to adjust without Chapman, their leading scorer, who suffered a dislocated right ankle in Monday's loss to the San Antonio Spurs and is out for at least 10 weeks.

Rookie Calbert Cheaney started in Chapman's place and playewell after a slow start. Cheaney missed all four of his shots in the first quarter and had two points at the half. But he finished with 19, including eight in the fourth quarter that helped the Bullets take a six-point lead.

"I thought Calbert got hot there for a stretch that helped us,coach Wes Unseld said. "I thought he got better as the game went on."

Cheaney, overpowering the smaller B. J. Armstrong, hit his finafield goal on a dunk with 3:00 left that, with the ensuing free throw, gave the Bullets an 82-76 lead. The crowd was out of the game -- and so seemingly were the Bulls.

"We were using the post-up to our advantage," Cheaney said"The shots were there, and I was fortunate they were going in."

That would be Washington's last field goal of the game. Pippe(15 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) followed with his three with 1:57 left that pulled the Bulls to within 82-79. Then Pippen hit a short jumper over Mitchell Butler with 1:22 left to cut Washington's lead to 82-81. With 58.3 seconds left, Gugliotta hit one of two free throws, setting up Kerr's heroics.

After a turnover by Michael Adams, Kerr missed a jumper. But the Bulls got the rebound, swung the ball to Kerr, who was fouled by Gugliotta as he hit the three-pointer from the left corner. He missed the free throw, but Chicago had its final 84-83 margin.

"I couldn't get a rebound when we should have," Gugliotta said.

The Bullets still had a chance to win, but Don MacLean (1points) was short on a jump shot in the lane. Pete Myers missed two free throws for the Bulls, setting up Washington's final lob to Walker that was off.

"I thought we played decently," Unseld said. "It didn't have tcome down to the last play. If we get the rebound on the other end, we're OK."

NOTES: The Bulls activated C Bill Cartwright from the injured listwhere he had been since Jan. 4 because of sore knees. Stacey King (sprained ankle) was placed on the injured list. . . . F Horace Grant, Chicago's leading rebounder, missed his second straight game with tendinitis in his left knee.

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