Running Bulls romp, 107-86, even series at 1


CHICAGO -- Apparently stung by Michael Jordan's public criticism that they were not prime-time players, the Chicago Bulls' supporting cast rallied around the superstar and breezed by the Los Angeles Lakers, 107-86, at Chicago Stadium last night.

The Bulls' dramatic form reversal evened the best-of-seven NBA Finals, 1-1. The series will shift to Los Angeles for the next three contests. Game 3 is scheduled for the Great Western Forum tomorrow night.

Jordan, who said he had to carry too much of the offensive burden in Friday night's 93-91 loss, again was the offensive leader, hitting 15 of 18 field-goal attempts in scoring a game-high 33 points and also getting 13 assists.

In the opener, he scored 36 points, compared with 55 by his teammates. This time, he got significant help, as the rest of the Bulls combined for 74 points. Chicago shot a club-record 62 percent from the field.

The Bulls turned the game into a rout by hitting 17 of 20 field-goal attempts in the third quarter to build an 86-69 cushion, inspiring a deafening din in their antiquated arena.

The final quarter became the Bulls' version of Showtime, as Jordan and Scottie Pippen took turns making acrobatic shots worthy of a highlight film.

Horace Grant (20 points), John Paxson (16 points on 8-for-8 from the field), Bill Cartwright (12 points) and Pippen (20 points, 10 assists) regained their poise last night after a case of the opening-night butterflies in their first appearance in the finals.

Magic Johnson, who scored 14 points under tight policing by Pippen in the second half, likened the sound beating to a prizefight.

"They kept attacking and had us rocking on our heels," Johnson said. "You can't win a fight or a game that way."

The Lakers, who were able to dictate a slowdown tempo by posting up four players in the tightly contested opener, were overwhelmed by the swarming Bulls in the second half last night.

Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy said: "Tonight, they did a perfect job against us on defense. The biggest difference was their level of aggression. We didn't get much help from our bench, but the way the Bulls played, it wouldn't have made a difference."

The Bulls also won the chess match between the coaches.

"We made a lot of adjustments for this game," said coach Phil Jackson. "They had some answers for us in the first half, but in the second half, we energized our defense and got all the tips and loose balls."

One of Jackson's best strategic moves was switching Pippen onto Johnson for most of the second half. He allowed Jordan, who had taken only six shots in the first half, to concentrate on his offense.

"I feel more comfortable playing Magic," said Pippen. "I'm not worried about scoring myself. I know Michael can take care of things."

Johnson said the taller Pippen presented more of a problem as he tried to back his way into the basket or penetrate the middle.

"The Bulls are trying to wear me out and take the ball out of my hands," he said. "Take your pick. Scottie is more physical than Magic. He did a great job defending me."

Except for forward James Worthy's (24 points) still playing on a tender left ankle, none of the other Lakers was able to pick up the offensive slack.

Center Vlade Divac had 12 points at halftime, when the Lakers were still in contention, trailing, 48-43, but he managed only four points in the second half. Forward Sam Perkins, who won the opening-night thriller with a three-point shot, was held to 11 points. The Lakers shot just 41 percent from the field.

Dunleavy attributed the thumping to a flagrant-foul call against guard Byron Scott in the third quarter that enabled the Bulls to score four straight points and boost their lead to 62-51.

But the real reason for the rout seemed to be Jordan and his fired-up supporting cast.

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