Jordan keys run that seals Indiana's doom


Larry Brown blames a one-dimensional offense for the loss.
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Michael Jordan knows the Bulls can win 70.
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Box score | Game recap | Game Flow

INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Jordan scored six of his 23 points in a game-breaking run as the Chicago Bulls dealt the Indiana Pacers a crippling blow to their playoff chances with an 86-80 victory on Wednesday.

Scottie Pippen added 17 points for the Bulls (67-10), who have won four straight games and 12 of their last 13. Chicago needs to win its final five games to match last season's NBA-record 72-10 campaign.

Jumping above Derrick McKey and Mark Jackson, Michael Jordan looks to pass off the ball.

"This was a tough game and we had to fight from behind," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "But luckily, we were able to come up with some big plays in the second half. We're playing with a little bit of a looser attitude right now and still able to play hard, which is good."

Antonio Davis scored 15 points and Rik Smits and Reggie Miller added 13 apiece for Indiana, which is two games behind the Washington Bullets and Cleveland Cavaliers with six to play. The Pacers, who have not missed the playoffs since the 1988-89 season, do not hold a tiebreaker edge over either team.

"It was a tough loss," said Pacers point guard Mark Jackson, who also scored 13 points. "We continued to hurt ourselves in key situations. We must work harder for shot selection and knock them down. We must continue to play hard for the remaining games, keep our heads up and go out with dignity."

Chicago swept the season series, 4-0.

The Pacers took their final lead of the game at 66-65 early in the fourth quarter when Jalen Rose hit an 11-footer. But Chicago answered with eight consecutive points as Jordan hit two free throws with 11:11 to play to give the Bulls a 67-66 edge.

Jud Buechler followed with a layup and Jordan hit all three foul shots with 10:03 to play after Miller fouled him on a 3-point attempt. Jordan capped the run with a free throw at the 9:21 mark after Miller was called for a technical foul for continuing to protest the previous foul.

"He questioned a lot of calls and he should know better than to let them (the refs) get under his skin," said Jordan about Miller.

Indiana came as close as two points, the final time at 79-77 with 2:03 to play after Miller hit a 19-footer. The Bulls missed their next shot, but Smits turned the ball over down low. Jason Caffey hit the first of two free throws with 1:19 left to push the lead to 80-77.

The Pacers committed a 24-second violation and Steve Kerr drilled a 3-pointer with 47 seconds left to make it 83-77. Fred Hoiberg answered with a 3-pointer for Indiana, but Caffey hit two free throws with 28.9 seconds to go and Jordan completed the scoring by hitting the first of two foul shots with 12 seconds left.

Indiana opened up its largest lead of the game at 42-33 following a free throw by Smits, but the Bulls closed the half on a 13-2 tear to grab a 46-44 lead at intermission.

Caffey finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds and Kerr added 11 points for Chicago, which shot under 40 percent (30-of-76) from the floor. Jordan had five steals as the Bulls scored 18 points off 18 Indiana turnovers.

"He stepped up big for us tonight," added Jackson about Caffey. "He carried the force on the boards of us. Although, he got some offensive rebounds, it was his defensive rebounds that were more important. His confidence level is getting better."

Indiana hit 39 percent (29-of-74) of its shots from the floor and Miller and Smits combined to make only 10-of-34 shots. Miller was 0-for-6 from 3-point range, ending a 66-game streak of hitting at least one 3-point shot.

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