Chicago keeps rolling behind Jordan's spark


Scottie Pippen blows past Robert Horry and goes in for the slam.
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Running the break, Michael Jordan finds Ron Harper with the no-look pass for the hoop and foul.
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Scoring | Game recap | Box score | Game Flow

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan scored 26 points and keyed a pair of second-half runs as the undefeated Chicago Bulls continued their best start ever with a 97-79 victory over the winless Phoenix Suns.

Michael Jordan
Dennis Rodman grabbed 22 rebounds and Scottie Pippen scored 18 points for the Bulls, who shook off a sluggish first half and improved to 7-0. Chicago won six of its first seven games last season en route to a record-setting 72-10 mark and their fourth NBA title.

"Mentally we're better than last year," said Jordan, who scored 17 points after halftime.

Michael Finley had 17 points for the Suns (0-6), who are off to their worst start in 11 years and are one of three winless teams. Phoenix lost its first nine games in the 1985-86 season.

"It's real special to come here and play in my hometown," Finley said. "Hopefully, one day, I'll get a victory here. We knew we had to come in here and respect the world champions. And they are famous for their third-quarter runs. They did us in that way tonight."

The Suns led 43-41 at halftime and still held a 47-46 edge after Robert Horry made two free throws with 8:47 to go in the third quarter. But Phoenix managed just two baskets by Sam Cassell over the next 7½ minutes.

"I told the guys after the game that even though we were up two at the half, we shot only 39 percent," said Suns coach Cotton Fitzsimmons said. "I knew the Bulls would shoot better and the question was whether we would shoot better. We played with them for 30 minutes after the Bulls showed their world championship floor."

Jordan and Toni Kukoc scored four points apiece in a 17-4 burst and a pair of foul shots by Kukoc gave Chicago a 64-51 lead with 1:10 left in the period.

"We have to make adjustments to these new teams," Jordan said. "It appears right now we play better coming from behind. We have been taking care of business, but it's a dangerous way to live."

The Bulls led 68-55 entering the fourth quarter but the Suns scored the first five points, closing to 68-60 on a bucket by rookie Steve Nash with 11:10 remaining. Jordan scored 11 points in a 17-7 spurt. Pippen's two free throws capped it and gave Chicago its largest lead at 87-67 with 4:16 to play.

Kukoc and Steve Kerr scored 12 points apiece for Chicago, which shot 43 percent (39 of 90) from the field but committed just 11 turnovers.

"It was cold in the building here tonight and it was a tough night for us shooting the ball," Pippen said. "We're not really putting a string of runs together right now. Hopefully that will come with better execution."

Danny Manning scored 12 points and Horry and Wesley Person added 11 each for Phoenix, which shot 39 percent (29 of 74) and had 18 turnovers, leading to 19 Chicago points.

The Suns held their largest lead at 23-16 on a basket by Person with 1:03 left in the first quarter.

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