March 05, 1987 By Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune.
Jordan`s 61 Carries Bulls Past Pistons
PONTIAC, MICH. — The Bulls stole a game Wednesday night, but Michael Jordan stole the hearts of 30,281 fans in the Silverdome, scoring 61 points in leading the Bulls to a 125-120 overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons. Jordan established a Bulls` regular-season record for most points in a game, breaking the mark he set just a week ago when he scored 58 in a victory over New Jersey. The 61 points also was a Silverdome record, breaking by five the mark set by former Piston Kelly Tripucka against the Bulls on Jan. 29, 1983. With the Bulls trailing 84-78 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Jordan scored the Bulls` first 13 points and then 11 of their next 13, finishing the fourth quarter with 26 points. He added four on free throws in the overtime and Sedale Threatt scored eight of his 19 points in the overtime to push the Bulls to victory. Jordan, who had 57 points at the end of regulation, forced a 111-111 tie with an off-balance jump shot over Pistons` center Bill Laimbeer with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Jordan then foiled the Pistons` attempt to win the game in regulation when he tapped away Thomas` pass intended for Dantley with two seconds left. “Nobody`s ever really unstoppable, but I felt close to it tonight,“ said Jordan.
“It was a big game for us, and the most important thing to me is that we won. But it was also great entertainment for the fans and great basketball, and that`s fun. “He (Bulls` coach Doug Collins) gave me a good three- or four-minute rest so I could really go for it in the fourth quarter, and I went for it.“ Collins said: “I put the challenge to the guys to win on the road, and I could just see the look in Michael`s eyes. I sensed he was not going to let us lose tonight.“ The victory, the Bulls` ninth in their last 12 games, enabled them to surpass last season`s victory total. But more importantly, it also snapped a seven-game losing streak in the Silverdome, which may give them a psychological lift when the playoffs come. The way the standings are now, the Bulls would plays the Pistons in the first round. The loss cut Detroit`s lead in the National Basketball Association`s Central Division to a half-game over idle Atlanta. The Pistons have lost three in a row. Adrian Dantley scored 32 points and Isiah Thomas 31 for Detroit. The Pistons moved out quickly, but their early advantage was tenuous because it was based on successful perimeter shooting, and the Bulls spurted ahead 17-12 midway through the first quarter. Behind Thomas, Lambeer and Tripucka, Detroit has relied on outside shooting in recent years, and it always has betrayed them in the playoffs. But when the Pistons traded Tripucka to Utah for Dantley, it gave them scoring strength inside. But it wasn`t until late in the first quarter that Detroit started going to Dantley. The 6-foot-5-inch forward easily posted up and launched the Pistons on a nine-point run that put them back ahead 21-17. Dantley ended the quarter with 13 points. Yet that was one less than Jordan`s total as the amazing Bull converted his usual assortment of jump shots and lay-ups that seem so routine for him, but would be spectacular, if even possible, if performed by anyone else.
Dantley worked successfully against most of the Bulls` big men early in the second quarter and Detroit moved ahead 40-32 and then 49-43. But again it was Jordan, supported by timely shooting by Threatt, who provided the spark for the Bulls. Jordan hit a jump shot off a double fake, banked in a two-pointer with inside position, hit a long, fallaway jumper and found Dave Corzine with a look-away pass for another basket. The result was a 10-point Bulls` run that put them ahead 53-49 on the way to a 55-51 halftime advantage. Starting out the third quarter, the Pistons also welcomed Laimbeer back to their offense as the burly center hit a jump shot and a lay-up to pull the Pistons even at 59. But the Bulls edged ahead 70-66 on two Corzine baskets and a Jordan slam off a scramble underneath. Joe Dumars, though, stayed hot from outside as the Pistons went back ahead 74-72 with 4:39 left in the quarter. The Pistons ended the quarter, in which Thomas had 13 points, with an 84-78 lead.


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