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Nets 99, Bulls 98

March 15, 1997

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ ``Air″ Jordan took on a new meaning Friday night.

Michael Jordan shot an airball late in the fourth quarter when the Bulls had a chance to tie, and Xavier McDaniel hit four free throws in the final 16 seconds as the New Jersey Nets stunned Chicago 99-98.

``The last shot wasn’t my favorite,″ Jordan said. ``I thought I could create a foul but at the last moment, I took the fadeaway. It was a dumb shot.″

The airball was an exception for Jordan, who was 16-of-34 from the field and scored 36 points.

``He’s human you know,″ McDaniel said of Jordan’s missed fadeaway jumper from 15 feet that would have tied the game at 97 with six seconds left. ``You don’t expect that from Black Jesus. But sometimes it happens.″

The win was the Nets’ first over a Jordan-led Bulls’ team since 1991, a string of 16 games. New Jersey beat Chicago in 1994 when Jordan was playing baseball.

The loss a couple days after Scottie Pippen kept up a war of words with the Knicks following a loss to New York. Pippen said the Knicks were inconsistent and incapable of matching the Bulls’ intensity, so they would never be as good as them. Pippen then pointed to the Knicks’ loss to lowly Dallas this week.

It came back to haunt him Friday.

``It’s pretty much the same thing,″ Pippen said after the Bulls lost for only the ninth time this season. ``It’s not embarrassing to lose to them, but it’s embarrassing the way we played against them.″

Making the situation even more embarrassing was having McDaniel step up big, scoring nine of his 11 points in the final 5:51.

Pippen had lumped McDaniel in a group of former Knicks power forwards, claiming they were average.

``He (Pippen) has to look in the mirror some day and say where would I get without Michael Jordan,″ McDaniel said.

Sam Cassell had 28 points and 12 assists and Jim Jackson added 20 as the Nets (19-44) posted only their third win against a team with a plus-.500 record. Kendall Gill added 14.

Pippen added 21 for Chicago and Steve Kerr had 13.

The Bulls tied the game at 95-all by scoring seven straight points, the final two on free throws by Pippen with 1:20 to go.

Each team failed to convert on its next two possessions.

Kerr missed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds to go and McDaniel got the rebound. He held the ball over his head and Pippen fouled him trying to make a steal with 16 seconds left.

McDaniel made both shots, the second hitting the front of the rim and bouncing up and in.

After a timeout, Kerr took the ball upcourt and gave it to Jordan on the left side of the foul line. His fadeaway jumper from 15 feet hit nothing but air, and McDaniel got the rebound, was fouled and made two more free throws with 2.3 seconds left.

``You can’t think he is going to score on you,″ Gill said of Jordan’s shot. ``I just played him tough and make him take a difficult shot.″

Jordan’s 3-pointer at the buzzer closed out the scoring. Chicago shot 8-of-28 in the final quarter (28.6 percent) and finished 37-of-95 (38.9 percent).

Jackson scored 10 points and Cassell had nine as the Nets took a 23-6 lead in the opening 6:49 and forced the Bulls to play catchup for the next 2 1/2 quarters.

The Bulls didn’t tie the game until the final eight seconds of the third quarter when Kerr hit two free throws to cap a 12-5 spurt.

A pair of jumpers by Jordan early in the fourth quarter gave Chicago two-point leads, but the Nets came back each time.

Notes: Tony Massenburg had nine points and team-high 14 rebounds for New Jersey. He had a career-high 11 offensive boards. ... Nets assistant coach Ed Schilling has agreed to become the head coach at Wright State in Fairborn, Ohio next year. ... Nets forward Chris Gatling missed his seventh straight game with a ear infection, a problem that coach John Calipari says may sideline him for the rest of the season. ... Dennis Rodman had 17 rebounds, including 13 offensive. The loss was the Bulls’ first in 14 games played on Friday. Chicago is now 9-7 in games it trails after one quarter.

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