The Boston Celtics' stirring victory over Portland is the type of performance that sometimes provides the impetus to a fast finish.
If the Celtics' performance Tuesday night at Milwaukee is an indication, however, the victory over the Trail Blazers was merely a one-shot deal.
Larry Bird, who made almost everything he shot Sunday, getting a season-high 49, couldn't do it again.
Bird, who had a triple-double against Portland, had only seven points against the Bucks, and the Celtics, 11-23 on the road, were beaten, 127-106, and fell 4 1/2 games behind New York in the Atlantic Division.
Despite sloppy play and Bird's making only three of seven shots, the Celtics trailed only 65-60 in the third quarter.
Then Jay Humphries and Dale Ellis led a 15-2 run that turned the game into a romp and kept the Bucks in the running for a playoff spot.
"We let them get their confidence up," Bird said. "We missed some shots and let them score at will in the second half."
Humphries had 21 points, nine in the third quarter, and Ellis had 22.
Six teams are fighting for three spots in the East. From Atlanta, the sixth-place team, to New Jersey, the 11th, there is a difference of only two games. The Bucks trail Atlanta by 1 1/2 games.
"We had a lot of emotion," Buck Coach Frank Hamblen said. "That's what we need to have in the last 18 games."
When Jordan went to work, so did the defense. The Bulls shut down the Nets for seven minutes and allowed them only one field goal in the last nine minutes.
The Nets built their lead without injured players Sam Bowie, Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson, but in the end, they simply ran out of gas.
During their scoreless stretch, the Nets missed eight shots, had four turnovers and missed three free throws.
"I'm glad I'm able to take over," Jordan said. "But I don't want to rely on that too much."
Golden State 119, Seattle 107--A five-day layoff was just what the Warriors needed.
Sarunas Marciulionis came off the bench to score 30 points at Seattle and the Warriors, beaten at home by Detroit in their previous game last Thursday, ended the SuperSonics' two-game winning streak.
The Sonics stayed close until Marciulionis and Tim Hardaway spurred a 19-4 run in the third quarter.
Portland 111, Minnesota 91--After ending their trip East with the heartbreaking loss at Boston, the Trail Blazers were glad to get a breather at home.
The Timberwolves, before losing their ninth in a row, made it interesting until Clyde Drexler broke it open in the third quarter by scoring 13 of his 21 points.
It was the eighth victory in the last nine games for the Trail Blazers.
Kevin Duckworth had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Trail Blazers, scoring nine points in a 23-4 run that began late in the second quarter.
The victory kept the Trail Blazers (47-19) 2 1/2 games ahead of Golden State in the Pacific Division.
New York 99, Orlando 86--With Patrick Ewing scoring 25 points and getting 10 rebounds, the Knicks built a 22-point lead in the third quarter, but Orlando battled back.
With 5:28 left, the Magic cut the lead to 82-80 on a three-point shot by Chris Corchiani.
The Knicks then opened it up again, scoring the next nine points, five by Mark Jackson on a three-pointer and two free throws.
In handing the Kings their ninth loss in a row, the Nuggets outrebounded them, 51-34, and converted 17 Sacramento turnovers into 28 points.
Phoenix 92, Dallas 81--When the Mavericks rallied to take a 70-69 lead in the first minute of the fourth quarter, it appeared they had a chance to end their 20-game road losing streak.
But the Suns' tough defense held the Mavericks scoreless for the next 7:15, while they were scoring 14 points to put the game away.
Besides losing 21 in a row on the road, the Mavericks have lost their last 10 overall.
Kevin Johnson had 18 points and 15 assists for the Suns, who have won four in a row.