Chicago 117, Indiana 98

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Jordan scored 36 points Friday and Scottie Pippen added 18 to lead the Chicago Bulls to their third consecutive victory, 117-98 over the Indiana Pacers.

Michael Jordan pulls down a long rebound over Dennis Rodman and Dale Davis.

Dennis Rodman grabbed 19 rebounds and Luc Longley and Steve Kerr scored 15 points apiece for Chicago, which has won all three meetings with Indiana this season. The Bulls (58-9) remained eight games ahead of Miami for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"This is one we wanted to get," Pippen said. "We may face this team in the playoffs if they sneak in. We wanted to knock them back as far as possible."

Indiana (31-36) has lost seven of its last nine games following a four-game winning streak and fell 5½ games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

Jordan made only 11 of his 25 shots, but he went 13 for 14 from the foul line and he helped keep Pacers guard Reggie Miller off his game. Miller finished with 20 points, but he was just five for 17 from the field and two for 10 from 3-point range.

"He's one of the best players in the league," Jordan said of Miller. "Any time you to play the best, then that makes me want to play my best. You just keep a hand in his face and make him work on the defensive end -- do the same things he tries to do with me.

"I was able to take advantage of it today when he wasn't able to hit his jump shot."

"I had great shots," Miller said. "That's all you could ask for as a shooter: To have good looks at the basket."

Rik Smits had 20 points and six rebounds for the Pacers, who had their worst defensive outing of the season. Duane Ferrell and Jalen Rose each totaled 14 points and Mark Jackson recorded 10 assists.

"Once again, we didn't do what we had to do," Jackson said. "We had a bunch of tough calls, which made it difficult, but still we didn't execute.

"We broke down and we had to get to the interior, which we didn't do. We had nothing else to throw at them when we were close."

The Pacers held a 17-16 edge on a tip-in by Dale Davis with 2:56 left in the first period. Chicago ended the first with a 10-2 run to take the lead for good. Jordan made a pair of free throws with 9.9 seconds left for a 26-19 advantage.

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