It has been a relatively quiet season for Michael Jordan. He is, as usual, leading the NBA in scoring and doing his part to make the Chicago Bulls a better team, but in a somewhat less-spectacular fashion.
There were two things that brought out the best in Jordan Tuesday night at Chicago as he led the Bulls to a 119-99 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets, with seven victories in a row, were the hottest team in the league. And, Jordan had been hearing stories that Patrick Ewing of New York was out to challenge his bid for a fourth consecutive scoring title.
Jordan scored 23 of his 35 points in the third quarter to break open a tight game. In those 12 minutes, he outscored the Nuggets, 23-18.
Jordan also grabbed 17 rebounds, although he didn't even play in the last quarter.
"He simply took over the game," said Coach Doug Moe, whose Nuggets have been an early season surprise. "It isn't that we stopped playing well, he just didn't give us a chance."
The Nuggets, led by Michael Adams, played the Bulls even, 49-49, through the first half.
Jordan's jumper from the key put Chicago ahead for good, 56-55, early in the third quarter. In the last 5:35 of the period the Bulls outscored Denver, 20-6, to build a 90-67 lead.
"I made a conscious effort to get the ball," Jordan said. "It ended getting me some offensive rebounds."
New York 110, Philadelphia 103--There was no letdown by center Patrick Ewing after winning player of the week and player of the month honors.
Ewing scored 12 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Knicks, taking advantage of the absence of Charles Barkley, improved their home record to 7-0.
Barkley missed the game because of a viral infection, but the Knicks couldn't put the 76ers away until Ewing went to work in the final quarter.
Ewing, who averaged 32.8 points last week and 28.4 last month, also had 12 rebounds.
Boston 114, Charlotte 101--Larry Bird didn't have his shooting touch, so he did the other things to lead the Celtics to only their third road win in nine games this season. They are 7-0 against the second-year Hornets.
Bird, who was four for 13, had a triple-double, getting 13 rebounds and 11 assists to go with 11 points.
Tyrone Bogues had 20 points, his career high, and 11 assists to lead the Hornets.
Portland 113, Miami 107--Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter each scored 27 points at Miami and both made clutch free throws in the last four seconds to assure the Trail Blazers their ninth victory in 10 games.
The Heat trailed by 14 points late in the third quarter, but fought back to within two points before the four free throws beat them.
Utah 94, Cleveland 80--Karl Malone took no pity on the injured Cavaliers at Richfield, Ohio.
Malone had 21 points, the 15th consecutive game in which he scored at least 20 points. He also had 19 rebounds. The Cavaliers are still without injured stars Larry Nance and Brad Daugherty.
Dallas 107, Golden State 88--Derek Harper scored 27 points and the Mavericks, taking advantage of the Warriors' lack of size, took control of the rebounds at Dallas.
The Mavericks led in rebounds, 52-36, but it took a 22-9 run that began late in the third quarter to subdue the Warriors.
Seattle 133, Houston 123--With Xavier McDaniel leading the way, the SuperSonics' offense is in high gear. McDaniel scored 36 points in this game at Seattle in which the Sonics built a 30-point lead and coasted.
In the last three games, the SuperSonics have had 120 or more in each and McDaniel has averaged 33 points.
Minnesota 92, New Jersey 90--Former Laker Tony Campbell, the league's No. 8 scorer, scored nine consecutive points in the fourth quarter and had a game-high 26 to lead the Timberwolves at Minneapolis.
It was the first two-game winning streak for the Timberwolves, who are 5-12.
Tyrone Corbin sank a jumper with 39 seconds remaining to break a 90-90 tie.
Sacramento 118, Milwaukee 103--Amid reports that Coach Jerry Reynolds is soon to become the scapegoat for the Kings' poor start, they rallied to end their three-game losing streak and evened their home record at 5-5. The Kings are 5-10.
Ricky Pierce scored 45 points in 36 minutes to lead the Bucks.