Bulls star rips Rodman and others after rare playoff loss
CHICAGO (AP) _ Just one loss is all it took to set off Scottie Pippen, who ripped Dennis Rodman for leading the team in technical fouls rather than rebounds and tore into the Chicago Bulls’ big men for playing like wimps.
Michael Jordan said Chicago shouldn’t panic or become a team divided, but he was too late. Pippen already drew the line between those who do (himself and Jordan) and those who don’t (everybody else).
``I’m trying to help us get over the hump. I can’t say that for everyone on the team,″ Pippen said after Thursday night’s 103-95 loss to the Atlanta Hawks evened the Eastern Conference semifinals at a game apiece.
It was the defending champions’ first playoff loss in five games this season and first home postseason defeat in two years.
The Bulls, however, were playing poorly even before Thursday’s loss handed homecourt advantage to the Hawks.
``We were hoping we could break out and turn things around, but it looked even worse,″ Pippen said. ``Unless we do the things we did all season to get 69 wins, we’re not going to pull another win out of this series.″
Going into Games 3 and 4 today and Sunday in Atlanta, Pippen said he was ``concerned about our big guys″ _ Rodman, Luc Longley, Jason Caffey, Toni Kukoc and Brian Williams.
``They’re not doing the things to make the game easier for us smaller guys,″ Pippen said. ``Anytime we have to have Michael come in and get 16 rebounds, that’s not called for.″
Pippen had extra condemnation for Rodman. The six-time NBA rebounding leader had only five boards Thursday and received his seventh technical in the Bulls’ five playoff games.
``If he’s not going to lead us in rebounding, don’t lead us in technical fouls,″ Pippen said, ``because we don’t need those.″
Pippen said his frustration with Rodman has ``been building. It’s not just this one game.″ And he said the theatrical forward must stop playing to the crowd and simply start playing basketball.
Rodman didn’t practice Friday because of flu-like symptoms, said coach Phil Jackson, who added that Rodman remains bothered by a sprained knee ligament that sidelined him for the regular season’s final 13 games.
``He’s trying to get back,″ said Jackson, was considering starting Caffey at power forward in Game 3 and bring Rodman off the bench. ``And there’s a lot of stress being placed on him.″
Rodman hasn’t commented on his health or on any other subject.
Though Jackson felt that Pippen might have been too hard on Rodman, the coach urged Rodman to avoid confrontations with referees and opponents.
``I told him that if he doesn’t (change),″ Jackson said, ``he’s a detriment to the best interests of the team, he’s being selfish to his own needs.″
Jordan also criticized Rodman, but not as harshly as Pippen.
``Dennis hasn’t really given us the effort. I’m doing all the rebounding, he’s not,″ said Jordan, who is averaging 8.8 boards to Rodman’s 7.8. ``He certainly has not been the Dennis Rodman we have expected in terms of energy level, and it’s not something that we’ve been able to compensate for.″
Jordan, however, blamed neither Rodman nor any other individual for the Bulls’ poor play.
``I’m not going to point to ... certain people; that’s when division comes,″ Jordan said. ``I missed a lot of layups, a lot of tip-ins, a lot of shots. Other players missed shots. But I don’t think we should bury ourselves and say this series is over.″
The last four times the Bulls split their first two home games in a playoff series, they went on to win.
``I haven’t lost confidence ... no matter what Scottie’s expressed,″ Jordan said. ``I haven’t lost faith in terms of our ultimate goal _ winning the championship.″
Jackson said Williams, who left Thursday’s game with a sore knee, should play this weekend.