Bulls edge Bullets by a neck


ESPN's David Aldridge says Luc Longley's return is a plus for the Bulls.
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CHICAGO -- Despite muscle spasms in his neck, Michael Jordan scored 10 of his 39 points in the final 3½ minutes and benefited from a questionable call Tuesday as the Chicago Bulls extended their winning streak to seven games with a 108-107 victory over the Washington Bullets.

"My neck is hurting. I'll take some anti-inflammatories tonight and hope it won't be a problem tomorrow night," Jordan said of his injury. "I got fouled in the head and it jerked my neck and pulled that muscle."

Scottie Pippen
Chicago's Scottie Pippen goes airborne, and Bulls coaches are left staring in awe.
Dennis Rodman grabbed 18 rebounds for Chicago, including the 10,000th of his career. Center Luc Longley had nine points and three rebounds in his first game since separating his shoulder in a swimming accident Nov. 25.

CHICAGO squandered a nine-point fourth-quarter lead but regrouped to improve to a league-best 18-1 at home. Scottie Pippen added 25 points for the Bulls, including three 3-pointers in the final period.

"Washington played well tonight," Jordan said. "We were never really able to get a good feel for them. In the fourth quarter, they came back and almost took the game away from us. We had a real dog fight and fouled out a couple of their guys. From that point, it made it very tough on them."

Chris Webber had 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Bullets, who have lost two in a row after a four-game winning streak.

"You can't send a message to the Bulls," Webber said. "What can you say? I don't think we sent them a message. Maybe we earned some of their respect."

The Bulls led 104-100 when Jordan fouled Bullets guard Chris Whitney, who clearly was behind the 3-point line at the top of the key and should have been given three free throws. But referee Bennett Salvatore ruled a two-shot foul and the Bullets didn't get within one point until Webber's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Shaking off obvious pain, Jordan began his tear with a basket that gave the Bulls the lead for good at 95-94 with 3:25 to go. Pippen made a 3-pointer to extend the lead to four points before Gheorghe Muresan cut the deficit to 98-96 with 2:22 left.

Jordan scored Chicago's next six points, giving the Bulls a 104-100 lead with 25 seconds remaining.

Whitney was fouled on Washington's next possession and made both free throws, but Jordan made two more with 11 seconds to play. Webber scored on a drive but Toni Kukoc released and scored an uncontested layup, giving the Bulls a 108-104 lead.

Kukoc scored 18 points for the Bulls, who shot 43 percent (38 for 88) from the field and held a 40-34 rebounding edge.

Rod Strickland scored 23 points and Juwan Howard added 17 for the Bullets, who shot 57 percent (43 for 75) and made 16 of 18 free throws. Both players fouled out in the fourth quarter.

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