Pippen slams the door on Bullets


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Wednesday's victory will make Thursday's pain worthwhile for Scottie Pippen.
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Michael Jordan considers another title a foregone conclusion.
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Box score | Game recap | Game Flow

LANDOVER, Md. -- Scottie Pippen's driving dunk with 7.4 seconds remaining Wednesday lifted the Chicago Bulls to a 96-95 victory over the Washington Bullets and a sweep of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Michael Jordan: "Michael just hit some great shots in the fourth," Chicago coach Phil Jackson said. "We knew their focus was going to be on Michael, but Michael is a fourth-quarter player. He's the one who got us back in this game."

The Bulls advance to the conference semifinals, where they will play the winner of the Atlanta-Detroit series.

Chicago had to work hard for the sweep, winning by only five points in Game 2 and one point Wednesday.

"They pushed us to the limit," Chicago's Michael Jordan said. "Without the education and maturity we got from past playoffs, it could have been a different outcome.

"The thing they lack the most is playoff experience against a veteran basketball team, and I think that's something they gained this series."

Jordan scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, including 10 points in the final four minutes. In a rarity, Jordan -- who averages 8.7 free throws per game for his career -- did not go to the foul line.

Jordan made two jumpers to give Chicago a 94-93 lead with 1:12 left. The Bullets then committed a turnover, but stopped the Bulls at the other end and took the lead when Juwan Howard made a pair of foul shots with 22 seconds left.

Dennis Rodman scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half.

Jordan lost the ball as he pulled up for a jumper on Chicago's next possession. Pippen grabbed the loose ball and drove baseline. Pippen jammed with two hands, the ball bounced up and then fell through the rim, and Pippen crashed to the floor.

"It was an execution to perfection," Pippen joked. "Michael lost the ball and luckily Juwan never saw it. The ball fell in my hands and I took it to the baseline as hard as I could."

"He loses the ball and Pippen grabs it," Howard said. "I'm speechless."

Pippen missed the free throw and Washington's Calbert Cheaney missed a shot at the buzzer.

Rod Strickland had 24 points and nine assists for Washington, which was hosting its first playoff game in nine years. It was the end of an era for the Bullets, who are changing their nickname to Wizards next season and are supposed to move from USAir Arena to the new MCI Center.

"This was definitely a confidence-builder for next year," Bullets forward Chris Webber said of the series. "We played the best team in the world and gave them a good fight. This team has a lot of heart and a lot of talent.

"I'm ready for the death of the Bullets and the birth of the Wizards."

Webber had 18 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the game. Tracy Murray scored 20 and Howard added 17 points and seven rebounds for Washington.

Forwards Toni Kukoc and Dennis Rodman, who are working their way back from injuries, made an impact for the Bulls. Kukoc had 16 points and Rodman added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

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