Chicago 87, Cleveland 71

Box score | Game recap | Game flow

CLEVELAND -- Michael Jordan scored 13 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter and keyed a pivotal 19-4 run that blew the game open as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 87-71 on Thursday.

Michael Jordan makes a pass around Tyrone Hill.
Jordan, held scoreless in the third quarter, had 11 points during the key run, which turned a four-point lead into an 81-62 advantage with 4:47 left. Jason Caffey and Toni Kukoc each added four points during the burst.

"It was a hard-fought win," Jordan said. "We were able to hold them off in the second half and I was able to get some easy baskets in the fourth quarter."

Only five players scored in the fourth quarter -- Jordan, Kukoc and Caffey for Chicago and Chris Mills and Danny Ferry for Cleveland.

"They play a very physical game and it's something we have to get accustomed to," Jordan said. "Once you get a 10-point lead on this team it's like a 20-point lead because they slow the ball up so much. It's a half-court game and every possession is very important."

Jordan made 10 of 24 shots in following up his 51-point effort Tuesday against New York.

"For an old guy, I'm starting to move around pretty good now," said Jordan, who turns 34 on Feb. 17. "I feel confident with my game."

Terrell Brandon scored all of his 21 points in the first three quarters and Mills added 20 for the Cavaliers, who have dropped eight of their last nine.

"That's two games in a row in which we've committed over 20 turnovers," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "It's obvious that I wasn't happy with it. But you have to credit our opponents. The Knicks and Cleveland are two of the better defenses in the league for playing that kind of defense that creates turnovers."

CHICAGO improved to 36-5 at the midway point of the season. That record leaves the Bulls on pace to duplicate their NBA-record 72-win season of a year ago.

Despite playing without suspended forward Dennis Rodman, the Bulls outrebounded the Cavaliers 49-28. Scottie Pippen had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Kukoc -- starting for Rodman -- added 13 points and 10 boards.

"We played a good first quarter, but once our energy level dropped, theirs picked up," Cavaliers coach Mike Fratello said. "I thought we'd be able to hold our own on the glass. We were concerned about their rebounding so we started a bigger team, and we were down 24-13 at the half in rebounding."

Brandon had 11 in the opening quarter as the Cavaliers seized a 22-16 advantage. The Bulls trailed by nine with 11 minutes left in the half, but went on a 26-9 run to close the half. Jordan had 10 points and Kukoc added six rebounds and four assists during the quarter.

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