Jordan lets Sonics know who's still boss


Jordan says he turned it on when the team needed him to.
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Phil Jackson says it's common for teams to assume Jordan will get his points.
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George Karl meant no offense when he said Jordan is more of a jump-shooter now.
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Jordan's halfcourt shot lands right into your lap.
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Jordan spins Gary Payton in circle as he lays it in.
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Jordan nails the jumper as Craig Ehlo looks on.
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Payton tried to keep the Sonics close with shots like these.
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

SEATTLE -- Michael Jordan scored 45 points and the Chicago Bulls sent a message to the Seattle SuperSonics with an emphatic 91-84 victory in their first meeting since last year's NBA Finals.

Again playing without suspended NBA rebounding leader Dennis Rodman, the defending champion Bulls toyed with the SuperSonics and improved to 20-4 on the road and 41-5 overall, both league-best marks. They snapped a three-game losing streak in Seattle and improved to 4-0 on their West Coast swing.

Using primarily his jumper to blister a handful of defenders, including Defensive Player of the Year Gary Payton, Jordan had 13 points in each of the first two quarters as the Bulls built a 19-point lead and settled for a 50-39 halftime advantage.

Payton scored 13 of his 24 points in the third quarter, when Seattle held Jordan scoreless for the first eight minutes and cut the deficit to two points. But Jordan bounced back with six points in a 10-4 run that closed the period, then added six more as the SuperSonics went without a field goal for the first 3½ minutes of the fourth quarter.

The Sonics were held to a season low in points and again were not ready for a challenge from one of the league's better teams. It was their second consecutive loss on NBC's Game of the Week and dropped their mark against Chicago, Utah, Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers to 0-7.

Jordan didn't get much help from forwards Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc, who combined for 15 points on 5-of-26 shooting. But Kukoc had nine assists and Steve Kerr added eight points off the bench. The Bulls shot 48 percent (35 of 73) from the field and held the Sonics to 36 percent (25 of 69).

Shawn Kemp scored 16 points, Detlef Schrempf added 14 and Hersey Hawkins 11 for Seattle. But Kemp had an awful first half, with two points and five turnovers, and bench players David Wingate, Craig Ehlo and Terry Cummings combined for no points, shooting 0-of-9.

Jordan was 6-of-10 from the field in the first quarter, erasing Seattle's early lead and giving Chicago a 27-15 advantage. The Sonics managed just six points in the last six minutes.

A jumper by Jordan gave Chicago a 36-19 lead with 7:19 left in the second quarter. To that point, Jordan had scored 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while Seattle had 19 on 8-of-27 shooting.

The Sonics cut the deficit to 43-32 on a left-handed scoop layup by Payton with 3:05 remaining in the first half and had a chance to get closer on their next possession. But Kemp fumbled a fast-break pass out of bounds.

Payton was red-hot at the outset of the third quarter, scoring 13 points -- including three 3-pointers -- in the first five minutes and helping hold Jordan scoreless. A layup by Kemp cut the deficit to 60-58 with 3:59 remaining.

But Jordan finally broke free for three baskets, helping the Bulls rebuild a 70-62 lead entering the final period, and took control in the fourth quarter.

He opened the period with three straight jumpers, giving Chicago a 76-66 lead. He added two free throws to build the lead to 12 points. Payton scored inside, but Kerr made a 3-pointer and Jordan made a turnaround jumper and 3-pointer to boost the lead to 88-70 with 5:33 to go.

Sam Perkins made six free throws and Kemp scored four points in a 10-0 burst, but Schrempf missed a three-pointer with 1:39 to play that could have cut the deficit to five points.

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