At finish, Bulls left standing

May 16, 1994|By Mark Heisler | Mark Heisler,Los Angeles Times

CHICAGO -- Scottie, come home.

See if this sounds familiar: The New York Knicks win two games, come here, stand idly around while the Chicago Bulls' star extracts himself from his latest controversy, lose two games, go home unhappy.

It happened a year ago around Michael Jordan's jaunt to Atlantic City, N.J., and it happened again yesterday when Pippen, pilloried after pulling himself out of Friday night's game, returned to score 25 points with eight rebounds and six assists, leading Chicago to a 95-83 victory and tying the series at 2.

Pippen got a few boos upon introduction but was cheered wildly thereafter. As long as he helps beat the Knicks, the Bulls' fans will forgive him of mutiny, embezzlement or kicking the lantern over in Mrs. O'Leary's shed.

"This team has many lives," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "Sometimes you grow closer out of the things that happen to ballclubs and individuals, to bring them together even closer.

"Tension brings weird experiences to people."

Pippen would say only: "I put it behind me. I apologized to the team and to Phil Jackson. I don't think I have to apologize to anyone else."

The other Bulls, still working on their togetherness, said it had been just been a game like any other.

"I think you all were the only ones worried," Pete Myers told reporters. "You all did all the writing. This is a team. We have responsibilities like a family. I had no doubt Scottie was going to come out and play well."

Said Steve Kerr: "He got introduced, the crowd goes nuts. All of a sudden, it's Game 4. . . . I don't think anybody on the bench mentioned it."

The Bulls had more to worry about than their embattled star, such as the fast-approaching end of their season.

Down 2-1 in the series, the Bulls saw the Knicks take a 12-0 lead with coach Pat Riley's new lineup.

Tired of playing catch-up, he took punchless Anthony Bonner and slumping Hubert Davis out of the starting lineup and put John Starks and Charles Smith back in.

With Greg Anthony replacing the suspended Derek Harper, the Knicks were back to their lineup before Riley's March shake-up.

Starks scored on a driving layup off the opening tip. Smith hit a 17-footer on the second possession. Pippen's first shot, from 18 feet, was a brick. The Knicks scored 12 points while the Bulls went zero for six.

They had come back to trail, 16-8, when Pippen picked up his second foul and sat down, to be replaced by Toni Kukoc.

The Bulls kept on surging. Kukoc, running with the offense as deftly as Pippen, had five assists by halftime. The Bulls had the lead by the end of the first quarter and were up, 53-41, by halftime.

It was 66-47 early in the third quarter and 79-65 going into the fourth. For the first time in the series, the Knicks couldn't mount a closing rally and Riley went home to re-draft the game plan.

"We have to gather our forces and take a good, hard look at our defense and what they're doing to our offense," said Riley. "They totally flattened us out."

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