Jordan's fourth quarter leads Bulls over Bullets

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LANDOVER, Md. -- Michael Jordan scored 36 points and outdueled Rod Strickland in the fourth quarter as the Chicago Bulls continued their dominance of the Washington Bullets with a 103-99 victory.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan slams over Gheorghe Muresan.

Scottie Pippen added 28 points and 10 rebounds and Luc Longley had 13 points for the Bulls, who defeated the Bullets for the eighth straight time and have won five in a row overall.

Juwan Howard had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Strickland finished with 23 points and nine assists for the Bullets, who played without injured All-Star forward Chris Webber for the fifth straight game and have dropped eight of their last 10 games.

The Bulls, who led 79-68 after three quarters, opened their largest lead at 84-70 when Jordan made one free throw with 10:03 to go. But Calbert Cheaney's layup ignited a 12-0 run, with Howard and Strickland scoring four points apiece, to get within 84-82 with 7:08 to play.

Toni Kukoc made a jumper to end the run and put the Bulls up by four, but Strickland converted a three-point play to slice the margin to 86-85 with 6:32 left.

Jordan took over from there, scoring Chicago's next 15 points. He pushed the Bulls lead to 96-92 and, after Strickland made a pair of free throws with 3:24 to go, responded with a layup and a 3-pointer to push the lead to 101-94 with 1:55 to play.

"He has an incredible energy level," Chicago coach Phil Jackson said of Jordan. "There is a point in the game where he is just gonna take over and destroy a team. We came together well to pull this one out."

Strickland was not done, as his layup with 9.3 seconds left cut the Chicago lead to 101-99. But Kukoc broke downcourt and took a long pass from Dennis Rodman for a dunk to close the scoring.

"We made big plays down the stretch," Washington coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I cannot complain about the effort. I am more concerned about the purpose. We are not into moral victories, but I am proud of the way they competed. I am convinced this is a team that wants to win."

"It just came down to possessions and they had more possessions," Cheaney said. "Everyone's game plan is to contain (Jordan). There is nothing you can do. You just have to get the ball out of his hands."

With President Clinton in attendance, Jordan finished with 18 points in the quarter, while Strickland had nine.

"It was kind of a showcase for him," Pippen said of the President. "I know he's a big fan of us, so we won it for him."

Chicago's lead was just 30-27 after Washington's Tracy Murray, making his first start of the season, made a jumper to open the second quarter. But the Bulls answered with an 8-0 run, capped by Steve Kerr's 3-pointer, to take a 38-27 lead with 8:16 left in the half.

The Bulls opened their largest lead of the half when Rodman, who finished with 12 rebounds, made a free throw to increase the lead to 60-47 with 27 seconds left in the half.

Kukoc and Kerr had nine points apiece for Chicago, which shot 53 percent (39 for 74) from the field.

Cheaney had 18 points, Gheorge Muresan 13 and Murray 12 for the Bullets, who also shot 53 percent (41 for 78).

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