Chicago Supermen aren't Bulletproof


Strickland credits Bernie Bickerstaff for straightening out the Bullets.
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Juwan Howard says Thursday's win represented a new kind of victory for Washington.
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Dennis Rodman says the Bullets were lucky.
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Michael Jordan says Chicago just couldn't stop the Bullets.
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Box score | Game recap | Game Flow

LANDOVER, Md. -- Rod Strickland scored 26 points and dished out 14 assists Thursday as the Washington Bullets won their sixth consecutive game, 110-102 over the Chicago Bulls.

The Bulls have to win their final nine games to match their 72-10 record from last season.

The loss snapped Chicago's eight-game winning streak and prevents the Bulls (63-10) from breaking their record of 72 regular season victories.

The Bullets (38-35) moved back into a tie with Cleveland for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

"We're a pretty confident team right now," said Strickland, who played despite a sprained left ankle. "Things are coming together right now, especially because we're playing consistently. That was our problem early on.

"For this team to win this game, it shows what we are capable of. (But) we weren't trying to send a message tonight; we just want to get better."

If the Bullets finish eighth, they would meet Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Bullets can avoid Chicago of they pass Orlando (40-33) and squeeze in as the No. 7 seed.

"That eight spot is ours, but we're striving hard for that seven spot," Bullets forward Juwan Howard said. "You never know what can happen in this league."

Gheorghe Muresan added a season-high 24 points and 13 rebounds for Washington. Chris Webber had 15 points and 12 boards.

Michael Jordan tallied 34 points and Scottie Pippen had 26 for Chicago. The Bulls, who were outrebounded 46-29, hadn't lost to Washington since Jan. 16, 1995.

"It was a really well-played game by them," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "Strickland was really a problem for us all night. When he didn't penetrate, he found Gheorghe under the basket for a couple of easy ones."

Chicago led 79-76 heading into the final quarter, and a jumper by Steve Kerr gave the Bulls their biggest lead of the period at 86-81 with 9:09 to play. Calbert Cheaney followed with a jumper and Strickland and Muresan made layups to put Washington on top 87-86.

Pippen's 3-pointer with 5:14 to go tied the score at 93-93, but the Bullets took the lead for good with a 6-0 run that was capped by Strickland's layup with 3:58 remaining.

Pippen nailed another 3-pointer and Jordan hit a jumper to cut it to 99-98 with 3:21 left, but Strickland hit a layup, Muresan made a free throw and a layup and Juwan Howard sank a jumper to extend the margin to 106-98 with 70 seconds to play.

"We knew we were in a battle because they are trying to make the playoffs. This team will be tough if we play them first," Jordan said of the Bullets.

Cheaney scored 17 points and Howard had 14 for Washington. Jason Caffey and Luc Longley each tallied 10 points for Chicago.

Newly signed center Brian Williams did not play for Chicago.

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