CHICAGO — CHICAGO -- For three-plus quarters last night, it appeared the Washington Bullets were on the verge of pulling off the unthinkable.
That is, a victory at Chicago Stadium, something they hadn't done since April 5, 1988.
Trouble is, Michael Jordan refused to play the willing victim. And the rest of the Chicago Bulls followed suit.
The Bullets watched a 90-83 lead go by the boards in the last seven minutes of a 107-98 setback, one that stretched their losing streak to eight in a row.
When the smoke had cleared, the Bullets were outscored 22-5 in the final 7:11 of regulation.
Actually, the Bullets were in deep trouble even before the contest started.
In his previous start against Miami, Jordan missed his first 11 field-goal attempts and was limited to three points in three quarters. The day Jordan has back-to-back stinkers is the day that the equator freezes over.
This time Jordan threw down 57 points -- 28 in the second half. Horace Grant scored 11, while Scottie Pippen added 10.
Harvey Grant paced a balanced Bullets attack with 20 points, while Pervis Ellison added 19, Rex Chapman 15 and Tom Gugliotta 14.
it turned out, the Bulls' offense was even more balanced: Jordan, Jordan and more Jordan.
AWith Jordan being rested at the outset of the fourth quarter, the Bullets made their biggest move of the evening.
Ellison and reserve Larry Stewart combined for five field goals without an answer as the Bullets stunned the home team with an 11-0 run to take an 89-83 lead.
AThe Bulls didn't score until 7:11 was left in the quarter when -- guess who? -- Jordan hit a fadeaway jumper and free throw. Then Jordan followed with a short turnaround.
Bullets coach Wes Unseld promptly called a timeout -- to no avail.
Saddled with early foul trouble, Pippen scored his first basket since the opening quarter to forge a 90-90 deadlock. Then Pippen did the same off a Jordan feed to give the Bulls a 92-90 lead they never lost.
Pippen followed with a third straight bucket before Chapman momentarily stopped the bleeding, but it was too late.
AThe Bullets' strategy appeared to be let Jordan get his, and hold his teammates to the bare minimum. For the most part, it worked.
When Jordan scored the Bulls' opening eight points of the third quarter, he had scored 37 of his team's 63 points at that point. Yet the Bulls could do no better than a 63-61 lead.
ATwice the Bullets took three-point leads, but they couldn't build on either one. After Grant's basket upped the advantage to 70-67, the Bulls converted seven straight points.
CJordan's three-point play put the Bulls on top, 74-70, but Ellison, Grant and Gugliotta combined for five free throws to overturn the deficit.
Jordan closed the period with a five-point barrage, including his fifth three-pointer of the contest, as the Bulls took a tenuous 83-79 lead into the fourth quarter. The Bullets shot 3-for-17 in the third quarter.
Early in the second quarter, the teams played see-saw until Stacey King and Rodney McCray scored consecutive baskets to give the Bulls a 47-43 advantage.
The lead stretched to 50-45 before the Bullets rattled off eight straight points. Grant started and finished the rally with baskets, the last being an 18-footer that upped the lead to 53-50.
After the Bulls' B.J. Armstrong broke the drought with a pair of free throws, rookie Doug Overton and Grant scored in succession.
Overton's work against Jordan led a defense that held the Bulls to seven points in the last 5 1/2 minutes of the quarter. With 3:44 left in the period, Jordan was moved to small forward, but the Bulls continued to sputter.
Shortly after Horace Grant missed a reverse dunk, Gugliotta made a layup to give the Bullets their biggest lead at 59-52 with 1:02 left in the quarter.
Jordan connected on his fourth three-pointer to make it 59-55 at halftime.
In celebration of the holiday, both defenses were in a giving mood in the first quarter. The Bulls converted 14 of 22 field goal attempts (64 percent), while the Bullets checked in at an even hotter 15 of 19 (79 percent).
Jordan scored 19 of his 29 points in the first period.
burned Chapman for a dozen points in the opening five minutes as the Bulls broke out to a 21-13 lead, their largest of the first half. Jordan did his damage exclusively from the perimeter, where he drained five field goals, including a pair of three-pointers.
Despite a 16-7 record, the Bulls have been ripe for the picking in recent weeks. The two-time defending champions were coming off successive lackluster performances at home against inferior opponents -- a two-point loss against Philadelphia and a four-point victory over Miami.