Brick by brick, Bulls build 2-0 lead


Neither gang could shoot straight in this one

X-factor: Bulls bench weak again

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Dennis Rodman holds nothing back, diving into the crowd for the loose ball.
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Steve Kerr hooks up with Scottie Pippen for the alley-oop.
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Jamal Mashburn shows he has no fear of Scottie Pippen, sticking the jumper in his face.
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Michael Jordan describes his play with G-Rated curse words. (Courtesy: NBA/TNT Sports)
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Jordan and Scottie Pippen make everyone laugh with new nicknames for each other. (Courtesy: NBA/TNT Sports)
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Phil Jackson believes the physical play led to a low scoring game. (Courtesy: NBA/TNT Sports)
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Tim Hardaway has one word to describe Game 2. (Courtesy: NBA/TNT Sports)
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Alonzo Mourning laments the fact that Miami could have won both games in the series. (Courtesy: NBA/TNT Sports)
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Pat Riley talks about Miami's chances to take the lead. (Courtesy: NBA/TNT Sports)
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls were bad. Fortunately for the world champs, the Miami Heat was even worse.

The lowest-scoring games in NBA playoff history:

143 points: Chicago (75) def. Miami (68), May 22, 1997

145: Fort Wayne (74) def. Syracuse (71), April 7, 1955

150: New York (77) def. Miami (73), May 11, 1997

151: San Antonio (80) def. L.A. Lakers (71), May 14, 1995

153: Chicago (86) def. Orlando (67), May 25, 1996

In an all-around ugly performance that produced the lowest scoring playoff game in NBA history, the Bulls were only slightly less awful than the Heat, taking control of the Eastern Conference finals with a 75-68 victory Thursday night.

Chicago now leads the best-of-seven series 2-0.

Game 3 and 4 will be Saturday and Monday at Miami.

The 143 combined points broke the previous playoff low of 145, set in a 1955 game between Syracuse and Fort Wayne. Syracuse won that contest 74-71.

"The fans really ought to get their money back," Chicago reserve guard Steve Kerr said. "To pay a lot of money to see this ... yuck!"

Michael Jordan, who once scored 63 points by himself in a playoff game, shook off three of the worst playoff quarters in his career to score 14 points in the final 6:27 as the Bulls won another defensive struggle.

Jordan was 2-for-12 from the field and had just nine points at the midpoint of the fourth quarter. But he finished with 23 by dominating the game's crucial moments, both from the field and at the free-throw line.

Michael Jordan gets a shot off as Alonzo Mourning defends.

Scottie Pippen also had 23 points for Chicago, which shot just 35 percent (23 of 64) from the field.

The Bulls were able to laugh off their sub-par performance.

"We gave ourselves names in the locker room," Pippen said.

"I'm doo-doo," Jordan said before adding Pippen's nickname that was more vulgar. "We can look in the mirror and say when we play bad. We looked in the mirror ... and came up with these two names."

Tim Hardaway had 15 points, and Alonzo Mourning added 14 for Miami, which hit just 33 percent (25 of 74) of its shots from the floor and tied the fourth-worst offensive output in modern playoff history.

The Heat's woes came on the heels of a 28-point second half in Game 1, when Miami blew a 16-point lead. The Heat has only 145 points in the two games.

"It was bad, pretty bad, pretty bad. We couldn't execute from the get-go," Hardaway said. "Down the stretch, we just didn't make any shots."

The game also featured the lowest scoring first half in playoff history. Chicago led 39-29 at the break and the 68 combined points were one fewer than the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets combined for on April 29, 1994. The 29 points by Miami were just four off the playoff record low.

Shot chart
Miami's 3-for-26 performance from 3-point range stands out as the worst stat on a night of awful shooting. Tim Hardaway (10), Voshon Lenard (21) and Jamal Mashburn (24) were the worst offenders.

What made the halftime deficit more surprising for Miami was that Jordan managed just seven first-half points on 1-for-7 shooting.

Despite the poor first half, the Heat pulled within a basket on several occasions in the third quarter but were unable to take the lead. Miami trailed 45-43 with 3:27 left in the period, but Jamal Mashburn missed a 3-pointer. After a Bulls' turnover, Mourning missed a driving layup that would have knotted the contest.

After Mourning's miss, Jordan penetrated in the lane but dished off to Pippen, who buried a 3-pointer for a 48-43 lead. The Heat were unable to get closer than four the rest of the quarter.

"I'm going to just sum it up for you: They have given us so many opportunities to win, it's ridiculous," Mourning said. "And we just haven't taken advantage of it at all.

"But I'm not discouraged because I feel that we've been playing relatively well at home."

The Miami offense sputtered badly in the first quarter as it managed to make only five of 20 shots (25 percent) in falling behind 22-12. The Heat set a franchise playoff record for fewest points in a first quarter.

Now this is bad: In a game when every shooting statistic for both teams was awful, one particular stat stands out: 3-for-26. That was Miami's total from 3-point range. Jamal Mashburn and Tim Hardaway both went 0-for-5, and Voshon Lenard was also terrible at 1-for-6.

Coming up for Air: Yeah, it was one of the worst playoff performances of Michael Jordan's career. But His Airness did the things in the fourth quarter that Chicago needed to win. He got to the line, where he scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. He picked off two big steals. And he drew the defense to him and dished the ball to wide-open teammates, including an assist to Ron Harper for a crucial 3-pointer.

The stars aren't out: Miami's two All-Stars, Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning, were particularly bad. 'Zo was 5-for-13, and Timmy was even worse at 5-for-16.

The Bulls took advantage of a long Miami lull to run off 12 consecutive points and take a 20-8 lead with 2:13 remaining in the first period. Miami went scoreless for 6:02 and without a field goal for 6:57.

Hardaway made only one of six shots in the first period, and Mourning hit one of four. The Heat then went out and missed its first two shots of the second quarter.

Frustration began to set in as technical fouls were whistled against Miami guard Willie Anderson and assistant coach Scotty Robertson during a 7-0 Chicago run that put the Bulls ahead 29-16.

Despite its offensive difficulties, the Heat pulled to within 34-29 late in the half.

Swept out of the postseason by the Bulls in 1992 and 1996, Miami is 0-8 in postseason games against Chicago.

Only 12 teams have come back from 2-0 deficits. Chicago has won all eight times it has taken a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.

"It's frustrating to some degree, but we've been able to win the two games. Two more strikes, and they're out," Pippen said. "Our purpose is to win. We don't care if it was two-to-zero."

The Heat is used to adversity, though. Miami became the sixth team in NBA history to rally from a 3-1 series deficit when it beat the New York Knicks in the previous round.

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