Curses! Jordan foils Knicks again


Smallticket Isola: Jordan, Van Gundy on unfriendly terms


Michael Jordan loses Allan Houston with an unreal fake.
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Jordan drives, draws and dishes to Toni Kukoc.
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Jordan thinks Tuesday's game was bigger than most.
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Scottie Pippen, are the Knicks better with this year's changes? (Courtesy: SportsChannel)
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Jeff Van Gundy says the Knicks weren't intimidated by Jordan. (Courtesy: SportsChannel)
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Van Gundy knows the Knicks need to play better down the stretch.
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

CHICAGO -- Because of all the times Michael Jordan has crushed the Cavaliers' hopes, fans in Cleveland loathe the Chicago Bulls superstar.

But do they really have reason to despise Jordan more than New Yorkers do?

Jordan scored a league season-high 51 points Tuesday, including a pair of clutch jumpers in the final 67 seconds as the Bulls continued their decade-long dominance of the New York Knicks with an 88-87 victory.

"I'd let him score all the points if it meant we'd win every night," Pippen said of Jordan.
Jordan was 18 for 30 from the field as he notched his second 50-point game of the season and 36th of his career, including playoffs. He also scored 50 against Miami on Nov. 6 and has the NBA's top four highest-scoring games this season.

"I was prepared to do whatever it took to win," said Jordan, who scored 58 percent of Chicago's points. "There were times where things were going so well everything seemed to be in slow motion. I didn't rush. I just relaxed and played."

"I don't mind when Michael scores like he did tonight," teammate Scottie Pippen said. "I'd let him score all the points if it meant we'd win every night."

New York has lost seven of its last nine against Chicago. The Knicks have never beaten Jordan and the Bulls in a playoff series, losing in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1996. New York beat Chicago in 1994, the season Jordan sat out with a brief retirement.

Jordan collected his fourth 50-point game against the Knicks. He had one in 1986, a 54-point performance in Game 4 of the 1993 Eastern Conference finals and a 55-point explosion five games into his 1995 comeback.

"Jordan had a great night," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said Tuesday. "You have to go at him as hard as he goes at you. I'm proud of my guys. They went as hard as you could at him."

Patrick Ewing had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Knicks, who lost for just the third time in nine games. New York played without injured guard John Starks, whom the Knicks usually rely on to guard Jordan.

"I thought our guys played a very good game," Ewing said. "But Michael hit the big shots. We still feel we're a power in this conference."

Playing without starters Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper, the Bulls bounced back from Sunday's 16-point loss at Houston. Chicago has won 10 of its last 11 and leads the league with a 35-5 mark.

"This was like a playoff game," Jordan said. "It was a playoff atmosphere and we expected it. We were able to hold them off down the stretch, minus our big rebounder (Rodman).

"I thought the guys did a heck of a job. We knew we had to get in there defensively, stand our ground and rebound the ball. It looks like the New York team is getting better. Without Starks in there, we were probably lucky to win the game."

CHICAGO opened its largest lead at 78-61 on Jason Caffey's dunk with 10:54 to play before New York went on a 17-2 burst. Allan Houston hit a jumper and two 3-pointers and Larry Johnson had a basket to cut the deficit to 78-71 with eight minutes to go.

Jordan sank two free throws before Charlie Ward's 3-pointer and layup and a hook by Buck Williams pulled the Knicks within 80-78 with 6:17 left.

Jordan answered with a pair of jumpers, giving Chicago an 84-78 cushion with 4:31 left. The teams went scoreless for three minutes before Ward made a free throw and Ewing had a tip-in to bring the Knicks within 84-81.

But Jordan made a jumper with 1:07 left and added another with 26 seconds to go, sealing the win. Houston and Chris Childs sank 3-pointers to make it close.

Pippen had 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Bulls, who shot 45 percent (34 for 76) from the field and were called for just nine fouls.

Childs scored 18 points, Johnson added 16 and Charles Oakley had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who shot 40 percent (38 for 94) and held a 44-42 rebounding edge. New York was whistled for 15 fouls.

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