Bulls pull win out of Air in Worm's return


Curtain rises again on Rodman three-ring circus


Michael Jordan recalls another game he pulled out of a hat last season.
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CHICAGO -- Even with Dennis Rodman back in the lineup, the Chicago Bulls still needed some late magic from Michael Jordan to extend their home winning streak.

Jordan broke a tie with a 22-footer at the buzzer, capping a 43-point night and helping the Bulls down the Charlotte Hornets 103-100 on Tuesday night.

Rodman & Mason
Dennis Rodman applies defensive pressure to Hornets forward Anthony Mason.
Rodman, who played his first game after serving an 11-game suspension for kicking a courtside cameraman Jan. 15, was on fairly good behavior. He grabbed 14 rebounds to help Chicago win its 15 consecutive home game and end Charlotte's four-game winning streak.

But his return was largely overshadowed by Jordan's heroics.

After Muggsy Bogues hit a 3-pointer with 9.5 seconds left to tie the score at 100-100, the Bulls quickly brought the ball upcourt and went to Jordan, who pulled up from 22 feet and hit a straightaway shot over Dell Curry as time expired.

"I got the ball with about 3.2 (seconds) left, took a power dribble to my right, went straight up and got a great look," Jordan said. "People expect that. I love living up to expectations."

As he walked off the court, Jordan hugged Rodman and said, "Welcome back."

Glen Rice, coming off his All-Star game MVP performance, scored 32 points to lead the Hornets. Curry added 20, and Anthony Mason had 18.

Before the game, Rodman said he expected the fans at the United Center to "boo the hell out of me." Instead, the league's leading rebounder was greeted with a loud ovation.

Rodman picked up first foul just 1:29 into the contest, mixing it up underneath with Mason, Charlotte's tough guy. Both players were called for a double foul on the play.

Rodman also tripped over a cameraman, but this time, it happened without incident.

Rodmans father
Philander Rodman, Dennis' estranged father, cheers during the first quarter.
"Are you happy David Stern?" Rodman said after the game.

With 5:59 remaining in the game, Rodman fouled Mason and stumbled out of bounds -- where he tripped over WGN-TV cameraman Tommy Skinner. Rodman smiled, patted Skinner playfully on the chest and apologized into the camera.

"It would have been a classic if I kissed him, but he probably would have sued me for slobbering all over him," Rodman said.

The cameraman Rodman kicked Jan. 15 in Minnesota, Eugene Amos, accepted a $200,000 out-of-court settlement from Rodman.

The game was the first of 11 in Rodman will donate his salary to charity. It also marked the first time in which the 35-year-old Rodman had played in front of his father, Philander.

Philander Rodman was flown into Chicago from the Philippines by a tabloid television show in exchange for exclusive interviews, so he didn't talk to other reporters. He sat in the lower section behind the basket. Rodman said he hadn't seen his father in three decades.

The first half was primarily a two-man shootout between Jordan and Rice, the two players who shined brightest in Sunday's All-Star Game. Jordan had 19 first-half points, and Rice finished with 21 as the Bulls held a 55-53 edge at the break.

A layup by Vlade Divac put Charlotte up 69-67 with 5:47 left in the third quarter, but Jordan sparked a 15-3 surge with 9 points as the Bulls took their biggest lead at 82-72.

During the run, Rodman thought he got fouled and was upset that Ted Bernhardt didn't make the call. Bernhardt was the referee that Rodman head-butted last season, drawing a six-game suspension. Bulls coach Phil Jackson, fearing another confrontation, pulled Rodman out of the game.

The Bulls led 92-83 until Charlotte scored eight straight points, capped by Mason's three-point play on the foul that sent Rodman into the cameraman, and the game remained close to the end.

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