Michael Jordan's tongue was wagging, and his 53 points had everybody's tongue wagging Thursday night in Chicago.
"When you're in a rhythm like that, you want to do everything you can to carry the load. And when you're hot, they keep coming to you and you keep knocking them down," Jordan said after leading the Bulls to a 102-81 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
His output was the highest in the NBA this season.
He made 21 of 28 shots, including all six of his fourth-quarter effort, to push the Bulls (54-6) to a 30-0 record at home, tying Orlando for the fastest start in NBA history.
Dunks, three-point baskets and fall-away jump shots. There was little the Pistons could do. Detroit Coach Doug Collins, coaching his first NBA game in Chicago since the Bulls fired him after the 1988-89 season, had seen it before.
"The thing I learned from Michael Jordan, being around him, is that it's one thing to stand up to him physically," Collins said. "Tonight, you got to stand up to him mentally--the torment he throws at you mentally. He can devastate you. He did that tonight. He spanked us around pretty good."
Jordan scored at least 50 points for the 34th time in his career.
"I don't think I had to do anything extracurricular to get the 53 points," Jordan said. "I shot the ball very well outside and inside, and I got quite a few easy baskets with steals here and there."
His baseline jumper with 4:25 to play put him over 50, and he left the game with 3:23 to play and the Bulls ahead, 95-73. Jordan's outburst was also the biggest in two seasons at the United Center.
He had said that he preferred to play in the old Chicago Stadium.
"It's the first time I've done that here," he said. "Now I can truly say this is my home. . . . I didn't know when it was going to happen, but I knew it was going to happen."
Golden State 95, Houston 86--It was that kind of night for the Rockets at Oakland, where Golden State got 21 points from Latrell Sprewell and an emotional lift when 6-foot-3 Bimbo Coles controlled a tip in a jump-ball situation with Hakeem Olajuwon in the final quarter.
It was the first Warrior victory over Houston in 12 meetings.
Denver 103, Phoenix 92--Dale Ellis, for so many years a high-scoring starter but now a reserve, scored 33 points, making five of seven from three-point range for the Nuggets at Denver.
Denver outshot Phoenix, 48% to 40%, and outrebounded the Suns, 54-27, but was able to pull away only in the last five minutes on a 15-5 run.
Atlanta 83, Cleveland 72--Christian Laettner, with a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in his NBA career, scored 22 points at Cleveland to lead the Hawks to their fifth victory in the seven games they have played since acquiring him from Minnesota.
Charlotte 119, Dallas 105--CBA veteran Anthony Goldwire, given his first NBA start because point guard Kenny Anderson sprained his ankle in a game on Tuesday and went on the injured list, scored 20 points and added 15 assists in leading the Hornets to a victory at home.
Charlotte broke a four-game losing streak.
Cleveland Cavalier guard Harold Miner had surgery on his right knee for cartilage damage and to remove a cyst. He will be sidelined about six weeks.