Jordan scorches Heat for 50 points


Michael Jordan jams home an alley-oop from Scottie Pippen.
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Alonzo Mourning sticks the jumper.
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Jordan says he only scores this many points when necessary.
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Scoring | Game recap | Boxscore | Game Flow

MIAMI -- Michael Jordan scored 50 and Dennis Rodman grabbed 22 rebounds Wednesday night as the Chicago Bulls remained unbeaten with a 106-100 victory over the Miami Heat.

Center Alonzo Mourning helped keep Miami in the game with his 33 points and 19 rebounds.

Toni Kukoc drives past P.J. Brown.
"The scenario tonight was perfect for a competitor," Jordan said. "I relish the challenge -- the tough game, playing on the road against a team that's undefeated."

Jordan, 33, hit 18 of 33 field-goal attempts and 13 of 14 free throws in his most prolific scoring performance since scoring 53 points against Detroit on March 7.

"The club missed a lot of opportunities, but I was in my rhythm," Jordan said. "I don't have to score 50 points every night for us to win, but we didn't get the normal support from our bench."

"Michael wanted to make a statement," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "When he's 40, he's still going to want to make a statement."

Miami fell to 5-32 all-time against Chicago, including a playoff sweep last season. Miami point guard Hardaway told a newspaper he was going to avenge that loss Wednesday night and, apparently, Jordan heard about it.

"He came out as a personal challenge from Hardaway," Chicago's Scottie Pippen said of Jordan. "Whether he admits it or not, he saw what was written in the paper."

"I like facing their team and I like playing against Riley," Jordan said. "A team like this makes you ready for the playoffs. My job is to make (Riley) disappointed."

The game was reminiscent of another time Jordan disappointed Riley: March 28, 1995, when Jordan scored 55 points against Riley's New York Knicks nine days after Jordan returned from a 1½-year retirement.

Pippen scored 17 points Wednesday for Chicago (4-0), which won its first five games last season en route to a record 72 wins and an NBA championship.

Rodman, who has won five consecutive rebounding titles, has pulled down a combined 41 rebounds in his last two games. "I get paid to take the bumps and grinds every night," he said.

The Bulls trailed 47-36 with 4:10 to go in the second quarter before Jordan scored nine points during a 20-6 run that closed the period. Pippen sank a 3-pointer with two seconds left that gave Chicago a 54-53 lead and Jordan stole the inbounds pass and made another 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"When we're down, we never panic," Rodman said. "We just keep on playing."

Jordan and Ron Harper scored five points apiece during a 10-0 burst that started the second half and gave the Bulls a 67-53 cushion with 8:08 left in the period.

"It changed the momentum of the game," Jordan said. "We jumped right on them in the third quarter and before you knew it, we were up 13, 14 points."

Chicago led 84-73 entering the final 12 minutes, but Miami cut it to 100-96 with 32 seconds to go on a hoop by Mourning.

Harper's transition hoop put the game away. Jordan had 12 points in the fourth period.

Toni Kukoc scored 11 points and Harper and Luc Longley added 10 apiece for the Bulls, who shot just 43 percent (38 for 88) from the field.

Hardaway scored 18 points and Sasha Danilovic added 15 for the Heat (2-1), who shot 47 percent (38 for 81).

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