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Riding the Bullets Bench April

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Jordan Writes A New Legend As Bullets Get Very Close

27 April 1997. Chicago Bulls 109, Washington Bullets 104 (record: 44-40)
Game leaders: Cheaney (26 points), Webber (12 rebounds), Strickland (8 assists)

Wow, was that some performance. And it was the only thing keeping the Bulls from losing home-court advantage to the upstart Washington Bullets. Jordan's 55 points, on 23 of 35 (65.7%) shooting and 10 for 10 from the charity stripe, were sights to behold. He did it from every angle possible, though most of them were jumpers.

Washington Post Coverage
  • Bullets Can't Keep Pace As Jordan Drives For 55
  • Michael, Are You Tired Yet?
  • Jordan Is 'Too Good, Too Great' For Bullets
  • Not Just In The Flow, Jordan Opens The Floodgates (Michael Wilbon column)
  • You just waited for him to stop hitting them, for just a slight cold spell, but it wasn't enough.

    And it wasn't like Calbert Cheaney was doing a bad job defending him. Jordan couldn't drive to the hole or post up, Cheaney was playing him that good. But the rim must've looked about 5 feet wide when he was shooting, because his compatriots shot a measly 19 of 43 (44.2%) from the field. Jordan scored 20 of the Bulls' 23 points in the fourth quarter. They just stood and watched Jordan save the game for them.

    Cheaney arguably had the best game of his career. His defense was very solid, and he scored consistently on his jump shots on 10 of 18 shooting. Tracy Murray provided the only bench points for the Bullets (22), and Webber chipped in with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists.

    The Bullets cut down on their turnovers in this game, with 12, although CWebb had 6 of them. And Strickland couldn't get the shooting touch down, going only 5 of 18 from the field.

    The Bullets looked good to start. They kept in front through much of the first quarter, then used multiple trips to the foul line (over 20) in the second quarter to built a remarkable 65-58 lead at halftime.

    But Jordan got pissed off at halftime and ripped into his teammates, and they came out with good defensive pressure that forced the Bullets to stumble. They only scored 15 points in the quarter and were down by 6 after 3 quarters.

    The Bulls were able to get the lead as large as 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the Bullets wouldn't die. They got within 1 point with 5:35 left, and later got within 2 points with just over 2 minutes left, but they couldn't finish it off. And Jordan was finishing them off with amazing shot after shot.

    Still, this team is good. And it's nice to hear Jordan, exhausted at the end of the game, look in the camera and call this Bullets team "the future." He knows that if the Bullets get any whiff of confidence by winning a game, this talent becomes that much more dangerous. Game 3, at Landover on April 30, should be interesting.

    wtf 30 April 1997

    <== Bullets Baptized By Fire In Playoff Initiation By Bulls The Hype Builds Toward A Showdown At USAir Arena  ==>

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