The Portland Trail Blazers believed that when they embarked on their first trip East this week, that most of the NBA didn’t think they were as good as their record.
The Trail Blazers were on a mission to prove their worth.
After an impressive 109-101 victory over Michael Jordan and the Bulls Saturday night at Chicago, there aren’t many doubters. They have proved that for the time being at least, they are the best in the NBA.
Although they were playing their fourth road game in five nights, the Trail Blazers took charge in the fourth quarter to improve to 18-1 and remain unbeaten on the road (8-0).
In ending the Bulls’ six-game winning streak, they withstood Jordan’s fast start and 35-point night to extend their winning streak to seven.
The Bulls, trailing by 16 points in the third quarter, battled back to within one, 91-90, with 5:44 to play. But Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler rallied the Blazers and they steadily built the lead back to eight.
Drexler had 29 points and Porter 25. The Blazers’ 18-1 record is the second-best start in league history. The 1969-70 New York Knicks, who went on to win the league championship, started with a 23-1 record.
“We were out to prove that we are an outstanding team,” Porter said. “We felt the people back here didn’t think we were too good. I think we proved something.”
They certainly impressed Jordan.
“They’re very deep,” he said. “They have a deep bench and a lot of weapons. But we messed up, too.”
San Antonio 102, Boston 96--Willie Anderson, in his best performance of the season, scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half at San Antonio to lead the Spurs’ comeback.
The Spurs, who had not won at home against the Celtics in 11 years, trailed by 11 at halftime. But Anderson and David Robinson brought the Spurs back.
They pulled ahead by a point after three quarters and won going away.
The Celtics, who had won nine of their previous 10, couldn’t overcome another weak performance by Larry Bird.
Bird, who turned 34 Friday, made only five of 17 shots from the field. Friday night he was only two for 11 at Dallas. He said he was feeling his age.
Denver 126, Charlotte 119--Orlando Woolridge scored six of his 33 points during a 10-1 run late in the game at Charlotte that enabled the Nuggets to win their first road game after nine defeats.
Michael Adams had 25 points and 13 assists for the Nuggets, who won for the fourth time in 19 games. The Nuggets led by only 109-107 when Woolridge, the NBA’s scoring leader, took over with four minutes left.
Detroit 104, Sacramento 93--The Pistons ended one of their worst trips in years on a winning note at Sacramento. The Pistons had lost four in a row, beginning with the loss to the Lakers last Tuesday night.
Joe Dumars had 17 points for the Pistons, who went ahead early and were never in danger. With the victory, Detroit regained first place in the Central Division with a 14-6 record.
Phoenix 113, Orlando 109--Kevin Johnson made a key steal with 22 seconds left at Orlando and converted it into two free throws that clinched the victory for the Suns. Johnson had 26 points and 12 assists.
Xavier McDaniel played 33 minutes and had 17 points and nine rebounds in his Sun debut.
Atlanta 99, New York 86--Changing coaches has not been the answer for the Knicks. With Dominique Wilkins scoring 26 points, the Hawks ended a six-game home losing streak and handed the Knicks their third loss in a row under new Coach John MacLeod.
Indiana 114, Cleveland 99--The Pacers shot almost 60% from the field at Indianapolis. Vern Fleming (13-18) led the sharpshooting, making 29 points and getting 11 assists.
Houston 113, Dallas 107--Akeem Olajuwon and Otis Thorpe overpowered the Mavericks at Dallas. Olajuwon had 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Thorpe had 28 points and 15 rebounds.