Bulls Rout Lakers in Magic-Michael Showdown
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) _ Michael’s still big on Magic.
Although Magic Johnson’s second game back with the Los Angeles Lakers was considerably less successful than his first, Michael Jordan believes Johnson once again can be a force in the NBA.
``I’m sure in due time he can show these guys he can play the game,″ Jordan said after the Bulls dominated the Lakers 99-84 Friday night to dim the luster of the first Michael-Magic meeting since Chicago won the fifth and final game of the 1991 NBA Finals.
``We’re fierce competitors. As soon as I say he can’t, that’s enough fuel to get him going,″ Jordan said with a grin. ``So I believe in him.″
As Johnson and Jordan sat together in a packed interview room after the game, Johnson said, ``The world’s greatest player, here to my left, puts you in so many bad predicaments.″
Jordan smiled and rolled his eyes.
Neither Johnson nor Jordan were big factors in the game. Jordan scored 17 points, 14 below his league-leading average. Johnson, who had 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in his return three nights earlier, a 128-118 win over Golden State, had 15 points, three assists and three rebounds in the loss to the Bulls.
At least one player didn’t think much of the buildup for the game or of Johnson’s performance.
``Michael and Magic was a bunch of hype. They need more than a rusty Magic to beat this team,″ said Dennis Rodman, who played tight defense on Johnson during most of the 32 minutes Johnson was on the court.
``Magic doesn’t have the legs yet for this game. He’s out there reaching and grabbing. That doesn’t get it in this league.″
While Jordan was relatively quiet on the floor, Scottie Pippen had 30 points and Rodman had a season-high 23 rebounds to help the Bulls win their 18th straight, improving their record to 41-3.
Chicago shot 55 percent and ran up a 20-point lead early in the third quarter on its way to a franchise-record ninth consecutive road victory.
Johnson was impressed.
``They’re all they’re built up to be and more,″ he said. ``They really are clicking on all cylinders and playing very well. I didn’t have as much fun (as Tuesday night), but give them a lot of credit.″
Jordan, who himself returned from a 17-month retirement last March and really didn’t hit high gear until this season, said he understands what Johnson faces in his comeback.
``That’s something that takes time,″ said Jordan, at 32 four years younger than Johnson. ``It took me a little while to get back in the game, and it’s going to take him the same amount of time.″
Cedric Ceballos led the Lakers with 23 points, and Elden Campbell added 15.
The Bulls were coming off a 20-point win at Sacramento the previous night, but they showed no sign of fatigue.
``I knew the whole game would be built up around Michael and Magic,″ Pippen said. ``We didn’t want to get caught up in that from a team standpoint. That’s what the fans in the Forum wanted to see, but we didn’t want to get caught up in that.″
In other NBA games, it was Utah 122, the Los Angeles Clippers 113; Cleveland 107, Phoenix 85; San Antonio 101, Minnesota 90; Orlando 108, Atlanta 95; Indiana 116, Boston 108; Washington 113, Portland 97; New Jersey 93, Vancouver 84; and Golden State 114, Toronto 111.
Jazz 122, Clippers 113
Karl Malone had the first triple-double of his 11-year career, getting 27 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
Malone’s best-known teammate, John Stockton, also is closing in on a career milestone. He had two steals in the victory, leaving him 18 shy of Maurice Cheeks’ NBA career record of 2,310.
The victory kept the Jazz in a virtual tie with San Antonio atop the Midwest Division standings.
Stockton scored a season-high 31 points and Jeff Hornacek added 27 for Utah, which led by as many as 21 in the third period before allowing the Clippers to pull within six.
Terry Dehere led the Clippers with 31 points, a career-high. Brent Barry added 23, also a career-high, but the Clippers lost for the sixth time in seven games and dropped to 6-16 on the road.
Cavaliers 107, Suns 85
Cleveland tied an NBA record with 10 3-pointers in the first half and routed road-weary Phoenix behind 23 points from Chris Mills.
Phoenix, playing the seventh game of an eight-game road trip, was uninspired by the return of Danny Manning from a knee injury that had sidelined him for nearly a year. Manning had 10 points and three rebounds in 26 minutes.
The Cavs finished with 12 3-pointers, including four by Danny Ferry and three by Mills. Ferry scored 22 points.
Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson scored 15 apiece for the Suns.
Spurs 101, Timberwolves 90
David Robinson had seven blocked shots in the fourth quarter and San Antonio scored 14 of the game’s final 16 points.
Robinson finished with 21 points and eight blocked shots, and Chuck Person had a pair of 3-pointers in a late 12-0 run and finished with 14 points. Sean Elliott scored 20 points, Avery Johnson 15 and Vinny Del Negro 12 as all five Spurs starters reached double figures.
Minnesota, which rallied from a 15-point third-period deficit, hasn’t won at San Antonio since April 3, 1990.
Magic 108, Hawks 95
Shaquille O’Neal had 25 points and 16 rebounds and Anfernee Hardaway finished with 14 points and 13 assists as Orlando stayed unbeaten at home.
The Atlantic Division leaders have lost seven of their last nine road games, but improved to 23-0 at Orlando Arena.
Stacey Augmon led Atlanta, which has lost three straight after winning 10 in a row, with 21 points.
Pacers 116, Celtics 108
Rik Smits scored 31 points and Reggie Miller had 21 as Indiana bounced back from its lowest-scoring game of the season.
It was the 16th straight home victory for the Pacers, who shot 61 percent from the field. One night earlier, they managed only 70 points and 34.6 percent shooting in a loss to Detroit.
Bullets 113, Trail Blazers 97
At Landover, Juwan Howard scored 14 of his 26 points in the pivotal third quarter and Gheorghe Muresan had 21 points and 16 rebounds.
The Bullets outscored the Trail Blazers 41-21 in the third period _ the most points scored against Portland in one quarter this season _ and shot 18-of-29 from the floor. Portland opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run, but never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Nets 93, Grizzlies 84
Armon Gilliam had 29 points and nine rebounds and Kendall Gill scored 22 points for New Jersey.
Chris Childs had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Shawn Bradley had 10 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots for the Nets.
New Jersey, halfway through a six-game Western road trip, won for the first time in a week.
Warriors 114, Raptors 111
At Oakland, Joe Smith scored 28 points and Latrell Sprewell had 19, including five in the final 1:02, as Golden State hung on.
Rony Seikaly added 18 points and B.J. Armstrong had 17 points and 11 assists to help the Warriors avenge a 101-98 loss at Toronto in the only other meeting between the teams.