Bulls charge past Heat, into Finals


Pippen slated for MRI on foot

X-factor: Jordan fuels fast start

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Michael Jordan sails in for a double-clutch jam.
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Nobody celebrates a trey quite like Dennis Rodman.
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Rodman draws a technical for taunting.
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Michael Jordan takes special pride in beating Pat Riley. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Ron Harper gives his best to Zo Mourning.
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Phil Jackson says the Bulls focused on stopping Zo. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Chicago gave Riley's club a reality check. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Bad timing hurt Riley in recent years. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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Luc Longley wants to face Utah next. (Courtesy: NBA/NBC Sports)
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The Zone's Fred Carter explains why the Bulls will need a rest.
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The Zone's Dr. Jack Ramsay praises the Chicago bench.
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Box score | Game recap | Game flow

CHICAGO -- Michael Jordan scored 15 of his 28 points in the first quarter Wednesday as the Chicago Bulls returned to the NBA Finals with a 100-87 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Bulls start fast: Chicago led 33-19 after one quarter. Miami outscored the Bulls 68-67 the rest of the way, but the Heat couldn't overcome Chicago's fast start.

Chicago cleans glass: The Bulls outrebounded Miami 60-41, including 22-13 on the offensive glass. "The best part of our game was on the boards," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said.

Pitching in: Chicago starters Luc Longley, Ron Harper and Dennis Rodman picked up the slack after Scottie Pippen's injury, combining for 37 points and 27 rebounds.

Alon-zero: Heat center Alonzo Mourning, he of the $100 million contract, committed seven turnovers and didn't make a shot until the final minute of the game

Interior defense: Chicago blocked 11 shots, six by Longley.

Strength in reserve: Chicago's bench outscored Miami's 33-12. Brian Williams had 10 points and Toni Kukoc scored eight.

The defending champion Bulls reached the NBA Finals for the fifth time in seven years, having also won titles in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

"I don't think anybody's going to win again until Michael retires," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "Sometimes you can build a great team ... and you'll never win a championship because you had the misfortune of being born the same time that Jordan went through his run."

"I plan on being around for a little while, I hope," said Jordan, who turned 34 in February. "I pride myself on helping this organization and city always stay on top."

Chicago awaits the winner of the Western Conference finals between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets. Utah, led by league MVP Karl Malone, leads the series 3-2.

"I don't have any preferences," Jordan said of Chicago's next opponent. "Obviously, if it is Utah, people will talk about the MVP matchup between Malone and myself. But I was serious when I said he deserved the award this year. He's been a great All-Star."

"For someone to beat them in the Finals," Riley said, "they will have to get great overnight."

After failing to sweep the Heat in Game 4 in Miami, the Bulls returned home and quickly took control. They never trailed, scoring the first eight points and opening a 33-19 lead after one quarter. The Heat never got within single digits thereafter.

Miami shot chart
Miami fell behind in the first quarter, when the Heat shot six for 20 and missed six shots in the key.

Chicago won without any contribution from Scottie Pippen, who suffered a sprained left foot midway through the first quarter and did not return. Luc Longley and Ron Harper picked up the slack with 14 points apiece, and Dennis Rodman scored nine.

"The X-rays were negative," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "There was a spot that was tender and Scottie said he felt better as the night went on."

Pippen still had a knot on his head courtesy of an elbow from Alonzo Mourning in Game 4. Jordan did not take kindly to that and refused to shake hands with Mourning in the pregame meeting with the referees.

"When they don't shake our hands, it makes me think we have their respect," Mourning said.

"The Heat are a very competitive team," Harper said. "They played us a very physical series. We are happy they are through. As a matter of fact, tell Alonzo to have a happy (bleep) summer now that they've been eliminated."

Mourning, who guaranteed a win in Game 4, was held without a field goal until making a 3-pointer in the final seconds. He scored 13 points and committed seven turnovers.

Tim Hardaway had 27 points and Jamal Mashburn added 22 for the Heat, which saw the most successful campaign in franchise history come to an end. Miami, which won 61 games this season, had never won a playoff series prior to this year.

Longley, Harper shot chart
Luc Longley (13) and Ron Harper (9) combined to shoot 71 percent (12 for 17).

"This was a great season for the Miami Heat," Hardaway said. "We went through adversity. Everyone said we couldn't get this far."

Jordan, who missed his first 14 shots Monday, made two jumpers during an 8-0 burst that opened Wednesday's game. He added two free throws and a jumper before Longley made a hook to extend the advantage to 16-2 with 7:01 left in the period.

Before Pippen departed, he made two foul shots that gave the Bulls an 18-7 lead with 5:30 left. The lead never dipped below 10 points after that.

Chicago shot 63 percent (12 for 19) in the first quarter and held Miami to 29 percent (six for 21). Jordan made six of 10 shots.

Chicago's reserves outscored Miami's bench 33-12. Brian Williams led the way with 10 points and Toni Kukoc had eight points, seven assists and six rebounds.

"Luckily, after Scottie's injury, the bench came in and did a good job," Jordan said. "We played together as a team tonight. That's evident by the way we rebounded the ball."

Alonzo Mourning made one shot and committed seven turnovers.

Chicago held a 60-41 rebounding edge. Rodman had 13 boards, Harper grabbed eight and Jordan and Longley had six apiece.

The Bulls also held a 22-13 advantage on the offensive glass. Rodman had seven offensive rebounds, Longley four and three apiece from Kukoc and Jud Buechler.

"They were certainly the more aggressive team tonight," Riley said. "They beat us soundly on the boards. Second-shot chances were the thing that eliminated us."

"The best part of our game was on the boards," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "Our shooting was not great, but our second opportunities were what created the game for us and enabled us to win."

Chicago which shot 46 percent (39 for 84). Jordan cooled off after his hot start and finished 11 for 31.

Miami shot just 36 percent (26 for 72), including 10 for 30 from 3-point range.

Jordan and Mourning each received technicals with 2:38 left, and Rodman was whistled for taunting Mourning midway through the third period. Rodman has received a technical foul in each playoff game.

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