It didn't figure to be a good spot for the Chicago Bulls to end their long losing streak on the road. They had not won away from home since before Christmas, and their opponents, the Boston Celtics, the team with the best record in the NBA, had a 30-3 record at home.
But Michael Jordan scored 33 points Wednesday night, Orlando Woolridge scored 29 while helping to cool off Kevin McHale, and the Bulls ended their 12-game road losing streak with a 107-104 victory.
McHale, who had scored 98 points in the previous two games, had a closer-to-normal 22 as the Celtics, for the second time in less than a week, lost at home to a slump-ridden team. Friday night, they lost to Atlanta, the injury-riddled Hawks' only win in their last seven games.
Possibly, the Celtics, who trailed from early in the second half, are tired. In a surprisingly tough game Tuesday night at New York, Coach K.C. Jones had used his starting five almost the entire game.
Both Jones and Larry Bird, who had 25 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists, denied that this was a problem.
"Five or six guys can play all the way," Bird said. "You have to go with what you got. The fatigue period is pretty much over now."
Until Cedric Maxwell was injured, the Celtics were using six players. Now, when the game is close, it's a job for just five.
"Fatigue isn't really a problem," Jones said. "We can always get a rest for a player who needs it. I don't think that's a problem."
Maybe not, but why have Bird and Dennis Johnson, who were shooting so well in the first half of the season, lost their shooting touch?
The Celtics seem to be frantically trying to get Ray Williams in shape. In his longest stint in his fifth Celtic game, 15 minutes, Williams had six points and four assists.
"This was our biggest win of the year," Chicago Coach Kevin Loughery said. "Our defensive effort in the second half was as good as we're going to play."
The Celtics shot 58.7% in the first half but only 39.5% in the second half. That, too, could be the sign of a tired team.
Philadelphia 96, Atlanta 86--After the 76ers lost two in a row in Texas, Coach Billy Cunningham benched regulars Charles Barkley and Andrew Toney. If his plan was to shake them up, it worked.
In this game at Philadelphia, Toney scored 21 points and Barkley 15 off the bench. They broke the game open in the second quarter against the Hawks, who were missing Dominique Wilkins and center Tree Rollins, among others.
Detroit 114, New York 90--Bill Laimbeer opened the game with two jumpers and Vinnie Johnson scored 19 of his 21 points in the second quarter as the Pistons made themselves at home at Joe Louis Arena. The roof of the Pistons' regular home, the Silverdome, was damaged by a snowstorm.
The injury-riddled Knicks trailed at halftime, 63-35. Despite a 28-point by Bernard King, the Knicks never made a game of it.
New Jersey 129, Seattle 108--The Nets, resuming their drive toward the third-best record in the East after a one-game lapse, took charge early at East Rutherford, N.J.
With Micheal Ray Richardson getting 23 points and 10 assists, and Buck Williams getting 20 points and 20 rebounds, the Nets broke an 11-11 tie and were never headed.
The Nets, jolted by Kansas City Tuesday night, have won five of their last six games. They trail the Pistons, currently No. 3 in the East by 2 1/2 games.
Washington 127, Portland 121--Jeff Malone scored eight of his career-high 40 points in the second overtime at Landover, Md.
Malone scored 10 points in the last 4:14 of regulation to get the Bullets even, 104-104, then two in the first overtime which ended, 115-115. He outscored the Blazers in the second overtime, 8-6.
Rookie Steve Colter, in his third start for Portland, scored 35 points.
Utah 94, Houston 90--According to those who study betting on NBA games, a good way to cash a winning bet is to bet against a team playing the night after it has played at Denver.
The Jazz was an even better bet, because the Rockets had gone double-overtime at Denver Tuesday night.
In this game at Houston, Mark Eaton's hook shot with 84 seconds left gave the Jazz the lead for good, 91-89.
San Antonio 108, Indiana 102--The Spurs were holding only a 103-102 lead over the battling Pacers at San Antonio when Artis Gilmore sank a hook shot with 24 seconds left, was fouled and converted the free throw.
It was the Spurs' third win in a row without injured star George Gervin.