Michael Jordan didn’t hesitate when asked what he considered to be the best of his many great games.
“This would have to be it,” Jordan said after scoring a career-high 69 points and leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-113 overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. “Everything seemed to fall and I found myself in a great rhythm.”
Jordan made 23 of 27 field goal attempts and 21 of 23 foul shots while compiling the ninth-best single-game scoring performance in NBA history.
He grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds, had six assists and four steals. Jordan scored 16 points in the first quarter, 15 in the second, 20 in the third, 10 in the fourth and eight in overtime.
“I’ve been saying that I try to do whatever it takes for us to win, whether it’s scoring points, getting rebounds or making assists,” Jordan said. “I think this exemplified it.
“I didn’t think about being tired because I wanted to win the game,” Jordan said after playing 50 minutes. “I’ve been in that situation where I’ve scored a lot of points and we lost, and I didn’t want that to happen.
“So I kept pushing myself, kept talking to myself, saying, ‘Don’t stop, don’t stop. Keep going.’ You feel better about the effort when you win.”
Jordan lifted his league-leading scoring average to 33.6 points per game. He has led the NBA in scoring the last three seasons.
He is averaging 50.5 points in four games against Cleveland this season--all Chicago victories. Of Jordan’s 98 games with at least 40 points, 19 have been against Cleveland. He has scored 50 points or more 24 times, six against the Cavaliers.
Jordan made a last-second jump shot to beat Cleveland in the fifth and deciding game of a playoff series last season.
“The guy did it over and over,” Cleveland’s John Williams said. “He’s one in a million, one in a billion. I don’t think we’ll ever see a player like him again. He’s probably the world’s greatest athlete.”
“I’ll always remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined to score 70 points,” said Bulls’ rookie forward Stacey King, who scored one point.
Jordan’s previous career high was 63 points in a double overtime 135-131 playoff loss at Boston on April 20, 1986.