RICHFIELD, Ohio -- "House of Marshmallows, Next Right -- Not" read the hand-painted sign about a mile from the Richfield Coliseum.
Angered after a Chicago newspaper columnist called the Cleveland Cavaliers cream puffs and marshmallows after a 14-point loss to the Chicago Bulls in the opening game of the NBA Eastern Conference finals, Cavaliers coach Lenny Wilkens said his players weren't marshmallows after the Cavaliers beat the Bulls by 26 points in Game 2.
So, Cavaliers fans decided to have some fun with the marshmallow theme yesterday. As the teams warmed up, the video screens high above each end of the arena showed a scene from "Ghostbusters" in which the Stay Puft Marshmallow man terrorizes New York.
But the Bulls toasted the Cavaliers like marshmallows, taking a 22-point first-quarter lead and holding off the Cavaliers, 105-96, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
After making only seven of 22 shots and scoring 20 points as Chicago suffered its most lopsided home defeat of the season Thursday, Bulls guard Michael Jordan scored 36 points, making 13 of 27 shots. He also had nine assists and six rebounds in 43 minutes.
"I really didn't shoot the ball well and I wasn't in good condition the last game, and I wanted to come out and redeem myself," Jordan said.
Jordan seemed to taunt Cavaliers guard Craig Ehlo, who was checking him, talking to Ehlo throughout the game.
"I was just trying to motivate myself," Jordan said. "Nobody else was yelling for me, so I might as well motivate myself. I wasn't saying anything derogatory toward Ehlo or anybody. I was just trying to show leadership."
The Bulls took a 19-2 lead after having fallen behind by 18-3 in Game 2, missing their first 13 shots. This time Cleveland missed 10 of its first 12 shots.
"I think we were complacent [during Game 2]," Jordan said. "The first time we faced this team we played well, and then we came out and expected to win. We read too many of your guys' articles, and we felt in our minds that we were supposed to take this [series] easily in four games.
"But we had to make a stand and get back on track. [Cleveland] is for real. We know that we can't read what you guys write in terms of expectations as to what we should do."
After checking Ehlo in the first two games of the series, Jordan asked coach Phil Jackson to let him check guard Mark Price, who had scored 21 points in Game 2. Price scored 11 points during the first period, but seemed flustered by Jordan's aggressive defense, scoring only five points the rest of the way.
"It didn't surprise me," Price said. "I'd been expecting [Jordan to guard him] for some time. Jordan is a good defender, he's quick and active."
Jordan said he asked to guard Price because he believed the officials would be hesitant to call fouls on him.
"B.J. [Armstrong] and [John] Paxson seemed to get some calls that weren't in their favor, and I felt that with my size and a little bit of favoritism from the referees, they wouldn't call so many fouls," Jordan said.
"A lot of the other guys were getting cheap fouls. So I took a chance of switching over, and I was able to do a good job. I tried to take the jump shot away, and I think he was hesitant to shoot over me."
After missing 10 of 14 shots during Game 2, Bulls forward Scottie Pippen made nine of 14 shots and scored 23 points.
"Michael's positive energy today gave a boost to everyone, and Scottie stepped up right behind and showed his leadership on the floor," Jackson said.
Sidelined for the second half of Game 2 because of a strained back, Bulls center Bill Cartwright returned and held Brad Daugherty, who had 28 points during Game 2, to 18.