Bulls squeak past Sonics in overtime


Close encounters


Luc Longley expects to see the Sonics again in June.
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Even though Michael Jordan was in a groove during the third, Phil Jackson knew he had to put him on the bench.
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Jordan doesn't know if he would have gotten the late foul call outside Chicago.
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Box score | Game recap | Game Flow

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan made two free throws with three seconds left in overtime Tuesday, as the Chicago Bulls edged the Seattle SuperSonics 89-87 in a rematch of last season's NBA Finals.

Track every shot from Tuesday's game between the Sonics and Bulls.

"This is the kind of high-intensity atmosphere we're going to see for a month in the playoffs, so why not try it now?" said Jordan, who scored 32 points and matched his career-high with 18 rebounds, but shot just 10 for 28 from the field and committed eight turnovers.

Chicago swept the season series with the Sonics, having already notched a 91-84 victory at Seattle on Feb. 2 behind 45 points from Jordan. The only way they could meet a third time is if both teams reach the Finals again.

"It's heartbreaking for us," Seattle's Gary Payton said Tuesday. "I hope we get a chance to play them again."

Michael Jordan rises above Shawn Kemp to slam it down.

Hersey Hawkins led Seattle with 23 points and Payton posted a triple-double with 14 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds. Payton also had six steals, but he shot just three for 16 and committed six turnovers.

Jordan scored six points in overtime, all on free throws, as he drew three fouls on Payton, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

"We had to find a way to win," Jordan said. "No one could generate offense out there for us. In reality, our defense really won the game for us. We weren't able to score, but we were able to make sure they didn't score either."

Hawkins made consecutive 3-pointers to give the Sonics an 86-83 lead with 1:15 to play in overtime. Dennis Rodman tipped in Jordan's miss to pull Chicago within one point of Seattle with 55 seconds to play, and Jordan added two free throws 20 seconds later.

Payton drew a foul from Jordan and nearly tossed in a left-handed layup with 16 seconds to go. But he made just one free throw that tied the score at 87-87.

During Chicago's next possession, Jordan drew a foul on Payton and made the decisive free throws. Hawkins missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

On the crucial play, Jordan's quick move at the right elbow got Payton off his feet. Payton did not appear to bump Jordan when he landed, but the foul was called.

"He lost the ball and I didn't foul anybody," Payton said.

"Everybody in the world knows there's a double standard here," Sonics coach George Karl said. "But it's like the old cliché -- you have to knock out the world champion if you're gonna win the title."

Jordan disagreed, saying, "That's garbage. I got a silly foul on the other end I didn't think was a foul."

Payton's foul on Jordan wasn't the first disputed call of the game. Payton missed badly on a 3-point attempt with 20 seconds left in regulation, but a foul was called because Chicago center Luc Longley touched Payton's fingertips.

Payton hit all three free throws and Chicago's Ron Harper missed a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

Rodman finished with 17 rebounds for Chicago and Longley added 16 points and nine rebounds.

"We had a real struggle out there tonight as a basketball team," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "It looked like our legs were dead. Luckily, we were able to get back into the game and make a run. They had a pretty good double-team working tonight and were able to shut down the perimeter on us."

Shawn Kemp scored 16 points before fouling out and Terry Cummings added 11 points for the Sonics, who shot 37 percent (31 for 84). Seattle lost its second consecutive game and leads the second-place Los Angeles Lakers by only one game in the Pacific Division.

Seattle also fell 3½ games behind Utah in the race for the best record in the Western Conference.

The Sonics led nearly the entire game but the Bulls rallied late in the fourth quarter, taking a 78-75 lead on two free throws by Jordan with 34 seconds to go.

Payton's free throws forced overtime, and a hook shot by Sam Perkins opened the scoring in the extra session to end a field-goal drought of 7:19 for the Sonics.

Steve Kerr scored 13 points for the Bulls, who shot less than 40 percent (33 for 83) but held a 54-41 rebounding advantage. Scottie Pippen had 11 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

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