Jordan Misses Early, Knicks Miss Late : NBA playoffs: His blown dunk attempt gives New York a spark, but Bulls pull it together for a 94-86 victory and 2-1 advantage.
Michael Jordan, who couldn’t control a wide-open dunk, put the Chicago Bulls in control of their playoff series with the New York Knicks on Saturday.
Jordan scored 32 points and Scottie Pippen came off a poor performance with 26 as the Bulls extended their NBA playoff-record road winning streak to eight with a 94-86 victory.
Chicago has a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Bulls led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and had a 48-39 advantage in the second quarter when Jordan’s breakaway dunk attempt bounced high off the back of the rim and went out of bounds near midcourt. The shocking play energized the crowd and opened the door for the Knicks to close to 51-50 at halftime.
“My main worry was that the ball would fly all the way to the other end and go in that basket,” Bull Coach Phil Jackson said.
“I was trying to take the rim down,” Jordan said. “I just came down too hard.”
The play started when Pippen stole the ball and passed to Jordan for a breakaway. The mistake by Jordan led to an 11-3 Knick spurt, capped by baskets from Charles Oakley and a jump shot and dunk by Gerald Wilkins.
“We were embarrassed by what happened late in the second quarter, especially Oakley’s offensive rebounds,” Jackson said. “We had meetings at halftime to discuss how to get the momentum back our way.”
“The crowd got so pumped up, but we didn’t maintain the electricity or the energy,” New York’s Xavier McDaniel said. “It’s very disappointing when the crowd is that pumped that we couldn’t reward them with a victory.”
The Bulls got back the momentum with defense in the third quarter, holding New York to 14 points and taking the lead for good.
Patrick Ewing scored 27 points for the Knicks, but they shot only 45% from the field (36 of 80). Game 4 is today at Madison Square Garden, where Chicago has won seven in a row.
Ewing scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, but on two occasions he yelled at teammates for not getting him the ball more.
“If something needs to be said or done, I’ll do it,” Ewing said. “This was a big game and it’s a big series and I’m trying to get us to the next level. But I could have played better. I should have more than 11 rebounds. We let them have 12 offensive rebounds.”
The Knicks started the second half with baskets by Mark Jackson and Ewing, giving them a three-point edge, but they made only four of 15 shots and scored only 10 points in the last 11 minutes of the third quarter. Jordan scored nine in the same span, lifting the Bulls to a 71-64 lead going into the final 12 minutes.
“That was the key to the game for us, getting the momentum back,” Jackson said.
Pippen, held to six points on two-for-12 shooting in Game 2, scored 12 points in the final quarter before fouling out with 2:07 remaining.
Pippen, bothered by a sore right ankle, credited Chicago trainer Chip Schaefer with getting him ready for the the game.
“He got a lot of the swelling and soreness down,” Pippen said. “I was ready to go out at the start of the game and be really aggressive.”
Pippen’s last basket came on a three-pointer with 2:45 left, giving Chicago a 90-81 advantage. It was the first time in eight playoff games this season that the Knicks had given up 90 points.
“We played hard, but we didn’t finish off the hard work with pursuit,” Knick Coach Pat Riley said. “We had a shot at it, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
McDaniel’s three-pointer pulled New York within six with 2:29 to go, but the Knicks didn’t score again from the field.
Jordan had 12 points in the first quarter and the Bulls were 10 of 14 from the field to take a 32-23 lead.