Bulls Will Let Their Game Talk : NBA playoffs: Chicago, trailing in the series, 2-0, boycotts the media as it prepares for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.


Rallying around their embattled star, Michael Jordan, the Bulls warmed up for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals by boycotting the press.

Jordan had denied reports that he stayed up late before Game 2, gambling in an Atlantic City casino.

Friday, no Bull player said anything.

"I don't think they like being portrayed in the negative manner they've been portrayed as a group and individually, too," Coach Phil Jackson said.

"And I think that's been a little unfair. I think maybe some of the people feel like the focus and the direction have been rather negative, and they just feel like it needs some more positive thought and they're not going to contribute to negative thinking."

Let's just say he was trying to put the best possible face on it.

As a group, the Bulls have suffered only the usual media notices of a team trailing, 2-0.

Aside from Jordan, only Jackson has been subjected to unusual criticism. Jackson has complained loudly of Knick defensive tactics and has been labeled a whiner, in and out of Chicago.

The Knicks have controlled, if not dominated the series, outshooting the Bulls, 53% to 43%, outrebounding them by 31, by 20 in a single match-up: Charles Oakley (30) vs. Horace Grant (10).

On the other hand, they won by scores of only 98-90 and 96-91. Scottie Pippen, thought to be the vulnerable Bull, averaged 21 points and shot 48%, and the Bulls were right there at the end of both games. Had Pippen avoided being ejected from Game 2, or had Jordan shot better than 22 for 59, the Bulls might have broken through.

Grant sprained an ankle in the Cleveland series, was kicked in the shin by Oakley in Game 1 and had two points and two rebounds in Game 2.

However, the unusual three-day break, arranged so NBC could televise two games over the Memorial Day weekend, allowed the ankle to heal. Grant took part in all drills in the Bulls' 3 1/2-hour practice Thursday and said he was fine.

That was the last time any Bull said anything.

"What bothers me is when you guys (reporters) focus on the little things," Pippen said. "It tries to frustrate us and get us out of focus."

Jordan, under hard questioning about his lifestyle and fondness for gambling from a Chicago TV reporter, cut off his interview session Thursday and sped out of the parking lot at the Bulls' practice facility in a white Porsche.

Today the Knicks get to deal with an indignant Jordan and 11 angry teammates. If the Bulls needed extra motivation, they may have located it.

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