Pippen's 47 lifts Bulls past Nuggets


Michael Jordan and Ron Harper work the 2-on-1 to perfection.
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CHICAGO -- Scottie Pippen scored a career-high 47 points Tuesday as the Chicago Bulls beat the Denver Nuggets 134-123 in the highest-scoring NBA game this season.

Pippen shot 19 for 27 from the field as he eclipsed his previous career high of 43, set against Charlotte on Feb. 23, 1991. He had 18 points in the third quarter and 13 more in the final period.

"I got a lot of easy baskets tonight. A lot of them were in transition," Pippen said. "I never really knew I was near my career high until the fans starting booing Phil (Jackson) for taking me out. I guess this was the West Coast style of play tonight -- lots of scoring and a little defense."

Michael Jordan scored 24 points and Steve Kerr had a season-high 18 for the Bulls, who are 40 games over .500 (46-6).

The teams combined for 77 points in the fourth period, including 44 by Denver. The Nuggets also were involved in the previous highest-scoring game this season, a 132-123 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Jan. 20.

Dale Ellis scored 27 points and Antonio McDyess added 25 for Denver, which has lost four of its last five overall and fell to 8-19 on the road.

"We started with McDyess (on Pippen). Then we switched to Dale Ellis. Then nobody guarded Pippen," Nuggets coach Dick Motta said. "Actually we shot 57 percent, so they didn't play good defense either."

Jordan scored 10 points and Pippen and Ron Harper had eight each in the first quarter, helping Chicago open a 30-27 lead. Two free throws by Ellis gave Denver a 41-41 tie with 7:27 left in the second quarter before the Bulls scored the next 16 points.

A 3-pointer by Kerr capped the burst and gave Chicago a 57-41 lead with 4:33 left before halftime. Pippen had another eight in the period, helping Chicago to a 66-54 advantage at intermission.

Pippen caught fire in the third quarter, making six of seven shots and all four of his free throws.

While the Bulls tried to get Pippen his career high, the Nuggets staged a rally. They scored the last five points of the third period and continued to surge in the fourth period, when McDyess scored 14 points.

A layup by Kenny Smith cut the deficit to 128-119 with 1:34 to go, but Pippen answered with a three-point play to seal the win.

Dennis Rodman grabbed 13 rebounds, Jordan had 12 assists and Toni Kukoc added 11 points and 11 assists for the Bulls, who shot 54 percent (53 for 98) from the field and held a 41-36 edge on the glass.

"It's one of those nights where it was a schoolyard game, where you could score at will, but I think we got too lax in the fourth quarter," Jordan said. "Scottie had great rhythm in this game, he's been hot two games in a row, so I decided to take a more passive role and get the ball in his hands."

Mark Jackson had 18 points and 10 assists for the Nuggets, who shot 58 percent (44 for 76).

"When you play the Bulls, you have to do the job defensively and we didn't," Mark Jackson said. "We don't talk much about defense."

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