Jordan decimates Cavs defense


Michael Jordan drives the lane and scores.
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Ron Harper gets the hoop and the harm from downtown.
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Bob Sura isn't happy after being called for an offensive foul.
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan scored 45 points against the NBA's best defensive team as the Chicago Bulls held on for their ninth victory in 10 games, 102-97 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.

Michael Jordan
Jordan scored 27 points in the first half, leading Chicago to its ninth win in 10 games.
"I'm not going to be welcome in Cleveland at the All-Star Game this year," Jordan said. Then he smiled, winked and added: "If I get a chance to go there."

Jordan was 13 for 25 from the field and 19 for 20 from the foul line. He scored 27 points in the first half as Chicago opened a 60-47 lead against Cleveland, which came in allowing just 82.8 points per game.

He drew three fouls in the first six minutes on Cavaliers guard Bobby Phills, one of the best defenders in the league, before doing most of his damage against second-year guard Bob Sura.

"Tonight was my night to get out of the box quickly," Jordan said. "I was able to get my act together and pull everyone along with me. A day off really helped get my legs back. I think my teammates felt the same way.

"Part of our game plan was to get Phills in trouble early. We were able to do that and took them out of some of the things they do offensively. With Cleveland, they always make it into a halfcourt game."

Phills fouled out with 1:50 to go, scoring 17 points. Terrell Brandon and Danny Ferry added 16 apiece for the Cavs, who allowed more than 100 points for just the third time this season.

"We stuck our nose in there and fought them," Cavs coach Mike Fratello said. "But Michael was just sensational tonight. For anyone to have a chance against him, some of those small fouls can't be called. If they are like tonight, you really have no chance against him or the Bulls."

"You just sit back and watch because you can't stop him," Brandon said of Jordan. "He elevates and shoots over everyone. There's nothing you can do about it."

The Cavs trailed by as many as 17 points and 83-69 entering the final period before starting the quarter with a 10-3 run. Two free throws by rookie Vitaly Potapenko cut the deficit to 86-79 with 6:43 to go.

During the spurt, Sura was ejected with 8:31 remaining. He was undercut by Bulls forward Dennis Rodman on a layup attempt but was called for an offensive foul. He argued and was ejected by referee Luis Grillo.

Jordan returned and had a fadeaway jumper and a dunk off a steal by Ron Harper, boosting the lead to 11 points with 5:34 to play.

A 3-pointer by Ferry capped a 10-4 burst that cut Chicago's lead to 94-89 with 2:05 remaining. Scottie Pippen and Donny Marshall traded 3-pointers and Steve Kerr made a pair of foul shots.

Another 3-pointer by Marshall pulled the Cavs within 99-95 with 35 seconds left, but Pippen made a free throw and Jordan added two more to put the game out of reach.

Pippen scored 18 points, Harper added 15 and Rodman had 16 rebounds for the Bulls, who shot 52 percent (34 for 65) from the field and held a 39-33 edge in rebounds.

"The day off seemed to pick up our energy level," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "We were able to step it up and shoot the ball well.

"Our game plan was to post Michael and try to get Phills into foul trouble. That helped us get a good lead in the first half. Another thing that helped was putting Michael on Brandon."

"They just did a good job defensively on me," said Brandon, who shot 5 for 16 from the field. "All three of their guys -- Pippen, Jordan, Harper -- were on me all night.

"But tonight we earned their respect, I believe. They killed us in the past, especially four straight by about 18 per game. There's no moral victories in this league, though."

Chris Mills scored 15 points and Sura, Marshall and Potapenko added eight apiece for the Cavs, who shot 46 percent (34 for 74).

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