Jordan's 55 points baffle Bullets


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Michael Jordan nails an amazing jumper as he falls out of bounds.
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Dan Patrick lets you know what type of game Jordan had with two words ...
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Tracy Murray makes an acrobatic, no-look shot.
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Chris Webber shows his passing prowess with this dish to Calbert Cheaney.
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Once Michael Jordan got going, he couldn't stop. (Courtesy: SportsChannel)
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Jordan says it's good the Bulls are being challenged by the Bullets.
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Chris Webber knows, Jordan can go into the zone at any time. (Courtesy: SportsChannel)
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Bulls assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers was glad to be on Michael Jordan's side this time.
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Box score | Game recap | Game Flow

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan scored 55 points Sunday, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 109-104 victory over the upset-minded Washington Bullets and a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Jordan, Jordan, Jordan: As ESPN's Dr. Jack Ramsay said when he previewed this series, "Michael is the edge. He's the difference between the two teams."

Jordan was 22 for 35 from the field and was simply unstoppable in the fourth quarter, when he scored 20 of his team's 23 points.

"When I get in a zone, I just go with it," Jordan said. "The team knows me and when I get like that, they just let me go. I get that feeling they know I'm gonna score. So do I."

The Bullets had closed within a point when Jordan rattled off three baskets in a minute, giving the Bulls a 100-93 lead with 4:04 to go. The last one was remarkable, as he dribbled through the lane to the right baseline and launched a 10-foot jumper as he was falling out of bounds.

"This was a great basketball game," Bullets coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We did everything conceivable that we could do to contain Michael. He basically put them on his shoulders. He showed tonight that he's the best basketball player who's playing today."

The Bulls can sweep the series with a win in Game 3 on Wednesday, Washington's first home playoff game in nine years.

"The bottom line is we've defended our home court. Now they have to go home and defend theirs," Jordan said. "This series isn't over by any means."

Calbert Cheaney, who guarded Jordan much of the game, scored 26 points and Tracy Murray added 22 off the bench for the Bullets, who threw a scare into the defending NBA champions but couldn't finish the job.

"Michael was just determined in this game," Cheaney said. "He just came at us in the fourth quarter and nothing we could do could shut him down.

"During that stretch he told me he was tired, but he played like the true champion he is," Cheaney said. "I was coming close to the ball on defense, but those shots were still going in."

"Calbert took away my postup game," Jordan said. "He put me into a perimeter game and made me utilize a lot of energy to get the basket, to stop and pull up."

A 3-pointer by Chris Webber capped a 9-2 surge and cut the deficit to 94-93 with 5:31 remaining. After Jordan's three consecutive scores, Cheaney had two free throws and a basket to make it 100-97 with 3:04 to play.

Scottie Pippen's 3-pointer -- his only points of the second half -- gave Chicago a six-point lead. Cheaney made a pair of foul shots and Webber added one, but Jordan buried a foul-line jumper for a 105-100 edge with 1:02 left.

Michael Jordan pulls up for a jumper over Tim Legler.

Rod Strickland made two free throws, but Jordan blew past Cheaney for a drive and added two foul shots with eight seconds to go.

"We were so frustrated that we were covering him with three defenders, and we still weren't able to do anything with him," Webber said of Jordan.

The Bullets led 65-58 at halftime and still had a seven-point advantage midway through the third quarter. Jordan was instrumental in a 17-2 third-quarter run that turned the game in Chicago's favor for the first time.

"I went into the locker room at halftime and I told the guys we weren't asserting ourselves," Jordan said. "I told them we weren't playing good defense and we were lethargic. I was angry. The third quarter, we came out and played like a team. That helped turn the game around."

"In the first half, they beat us to a lot of loose balls," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "They basically outhustled us. The third quarter, we got back into our game. We played good defense."

"There were some heated words at halftime," Bulls guard Steve Kerr said. "MJ was upset. Phil told us we lacked intensity. We went out and picked it up a notch and came back."

Pippen finished with 14 points and Ron Harper had 10 for the Bulls, who shot 53 percent (41 for 78) and missed just four of 27 foul shots. Jordan was 10 for 10 from the line.

Webber had 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, but he only scored four points in the second half. Juwan Howard scored 18 points and Strickland had 16 points and eight assists for the Bullets, who shot 43 percent (35 for 81).

Cheaney, Murray, Webber, Howard and Strickland combined for all but one of Washington's points.

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