Cavs carve up Bulls' winning streak


Chronology of Jordan vs. Cavs


Bobby Phills says the win was huge for Cleveland.
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ESPN's Fred Carter doesn't give the Cavs much credit for their victory.
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Box score | Game recap | Game Flow

CLEVELAND -- Terrell Brandon scored 23 points and Vitaly Potapenko hit all four of his field goals in the fourth quarter as the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 73-70 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

Dennis Rodman
Danny Ferry reaches in on Dennis Rodman.

Michael Jordan missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer as the Bulls were denied at their attempt to tie their own record for the best 50-win record (50-6) in NBA history. Chicago's seven-game winning streak also ended.

"So we lost one," said Bulls forward Dennis Rodman, who had 16 points and 16 rebounds. "Now we have to try to get back on track. I think we have the ability to do that, don't you?"

Two foul shots by Brandon and a jumper by Potapenko with 2:45 remaining gave the Cavs a 72-65 lead. Chicago answered with a 3-pointer by Steve Kerr and Scottie Pippen's two free throws with 19.7 seconds to go, narrowing the gap to 72-70.

Chris Mills was fouled with 10.1 seconds left, but he split his free throws. The Bulls got the ball to Jordan, who missed from 3-point range to end the game.

"It was amazing that we had an opportunity to be in the ball game," Jordan said. "We never shot well and every loose ball, they came up with. It certainly was not the Bulls' night.

Here's a comparison of the Bulls' stats during their recent seven-game winning streak and during Thursday's 73-70 loss in Cleveland:
  Streak Thursday
Points 110.7 ppg 70
FG percentage 49.6%
Jordan scoring 31.8 ppg 23
Jordan FG% 52.4%
Bench scoring 33.7 ppg 9

"It was a busted play," Jordan said of the final shot. "I just tried to get a good feel to get the shot off and the ball went in and out. It wouldn't have been justifiable if I made the shot the way we played."

Bobby Phills had 13 points and Potapenko finished with 12 for Cleveland, which has won six of its last eight games. The Cavs played without starting forward Tyrone Hill, who has a sprained right ankle.

"This is probably our best victory. It is huge," Phills said. "Tonight we really handled the ball and kept our turnovers down. We kept their transition baskets down and I think that really bothered them. To have an opportunity to win this basketball game, we had to keep Jordan's numbers down."

Jordan was only seven for 25 from the field and scored 23 points for the Bulls.

Chicago was held to its lowest point total since an 88-68 loss at Sacramento on Feb. 2, 1995. The Bulls had won the last six meetings with Cleveland, including two matchups this season.

The Cavs had no other players score in double figures, and were outrebounded 48-36. Starting center Mark West had to leave the game in the third quarter with a pulled groin after colliding with Rodman.

"It was a big game for the Cavaliers and a big game for me personally," Potapenko said. "But I still have to work and take something away from such a good game. After Hill got injured and West left the game, all the responsibilities were on my shoulders in the middle."

Rodman's tip gave the Bulls their only lead at 2-0 before Phills and Brandon scored six points apiece in a 16-6 run. The Cavs held a 21-14 advantage after 12 minutes and maintained a 41-32 cushion at the half.

Potapenko's two free throws gave Cleveland its biggest lead, 62-46 with 2:22 left in the third period, but Chicago rallied with a 15-2 surge. Rodman and Jordan each netted four points in the burst and Pippen's foul shot with 7:37 left cut it to 64-61.

Pippen totaled 14 points and 14 rebounds for Chicago, which shot just 33 percent (25 for 76) from the floor, including one for 14 from 3-point range.

"It was just a dismal performance by our basketball team tonight, particularly in the first half when we shot 27 percent," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "Potapenko was the X factor tonight for the Cavs. We had a poor effort off the bench, and as a consequence they were able to win the game."

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