Bench presses Bulls to victory


Rodman relegated to reserve role

series page


Michael Jordan hangs in the air and cans a jumper.
363k avi

Jason Caffey drives baseline and jams on Dikembe Mutombo.
343k avi

Mutombo rejects Jordan, but Brian Williams is there for a dunk.
385k avi

Steve Smith is glad the Hawks can get back at it on Sunday.
125k wav

Michael Jordan hopes the Bulls can complete a two-game sweep in Atlanta on Sunday.
111k wav

Bulls coach Phil Jackson says Jordan wasn't himself Saturday.
128k wav

Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens says there's no way his team relaxed.
286k wav

Scottie Pippen knew that the Bulls would come out focused on Saturday.
92k wav

Box score | Game recap | Game flow

ATLANTA -- Chicago reserves Toni Kukoc and Brian Williams scored 10 points apiece in the fourth quarter Saturday as the Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks 100-80 and regained home-court advantage in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

It was close until Chicago seized control in the fourth quarter. Complete game flows for all games are available to SportsZone subscribers.

The defending champion Bulls, who lost Thursday at home, bounced back with their best performance of the playoffs. They held the Hawks to 28 points in the second half and took a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is Sunday in Atlanta.

"It was a game that we've been waiting for in the sense that we we busted out of a little slump," Chicago's Michael Jordan said. "We played a type of basketball that we're capable of playing, especially in the second half."

Jordan scored 21 points and Scottie Pippen added 17, but they each shot just eight for 20. Jordan and Pippen had carried the offensive load in the Bulls' first five playoff games, combining for more than 55 points per contest.

"We can't just rely on Michael and Scottie every game," Kukoc said. "It's hard for them if they don't have good support. Today, we did a good job."

Kukoc scored 16 points and Williams added 14.

"We didn't rely on one or two people to do all the work," Jordan said. "Brian came in and ignited our offense."

The Bulls trailed 52-46 at halftime, but battled back to take a 71-68 lead after three quarters. Chicago then held the Hawks to two baskets in the opening 9:51 of the fourth quarter, including a scoreless stretch of almost five minutes.

Super second half: Bulls trailed by six at halftime, but they outscored Atlanta 54-28 the rest of the way.

Team effort: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen scored 58 percent of Chicago's points in the first two games. The Bulls' attack was more balanced in Game 3, as six players were in double-figures and Jordan and Pippen scored only 38 percent of Chicago's points.

Power boost: Jason Caffey started at power forward and finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago. Caffey also grabbed eight offensive rebounds as the Bulls outdid Atlanta 25-14 on the offensive glass.

Bulls solve Mookie: After averaging 28.5 points in the first two games, Atlanta's Mookie Blaylock had only 10 points Saturday and missed five of his six 3-pointers.

Kukoc delivered the crushing blow, draining a 30-footer as the shot clock expired and giving Chicago an 84-72 lead with 7:23 to play.

Dikembe Mutombo had 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for the Hawks, who matched the second-worst second half in playoff history.

"I think we surrendered in the second half," Mutombo said. "We need to give the extra effort out there, and today we just quit."

Atlanta's second half matched the 28 points by the San Antonio Spurs against Portland on May 7, 1993. The all-time low is 27, shared by Philadelphia in 1982 and Indiana in 1995.

Atlanta's Mookie Blaylock, who confounded the Bulls with 57 points, 19 rebounds and 14 assists in the first two games, was held to 10 points on three-for-10 shooting.

Jason Caffey, who started for the ineffective and ailing Dennis Rodman, had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls. Ron Harper added 10 points.

Rodman, who is suffering from a stomach virus, scored two points and grabbed three rebounds in seven minutes. He came off the bench and received two personal fouls in his first two minutes. He also was whistled for his eighth technical foul of the playoffs.

Chicago held a 53-36 rebounding advantage, including a 25-14 edge on the offensive glass. Caffey had eight offensive rebounds.

"We did a very poor job on the boards," Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens said. "They really hurt us on the offensive boards. They were very aggressive right from the start."

Steve Smith, Alan Henderson and Christian Laettner scored 13 points apiece for Atlanta, which shot 36 percent (24 for 66) and committed 19 turnovers.

Copyright 1996-1997 Starwave Corporation and ESPN Inc. All rights reserved. Duplicated and redistributed without permission.