May 28, 1991 By Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune.
Sweep Way Into 1st NBA Final 
AUBURN HILLS, MICH. — Go ahead Charlie Brown, kick that football. It`s going to stay right there. And you, Tinkerbell, we believe. And we`re applauding. Once-sleepy basketball kingdoms, like Chicago, can come to life. And they can even go to the ball. Fairy tales do come true. The Bulls are going to the National Basketball Association finals for the first time. “I`m extremely pleased for Michael Jordan,“ said Bulls coach Phil Jackson after the Bulls had completed a four-game sweep of the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals Monday with a lopsided 115-94 victory here. “For Bill Cartwright, Craig Hodges, Cliff Levingston, John Paxson, guys who`ve been around the league seven, eight, nine years, this is particularly sweet for them. They are now one sweep away from the best playoff record of all-time, set by the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers at 12-1. The Bulls moved to 11-1 Monday. Only a Hersey Hawkins desperation three-point field goal has keep them from going undefeated. And they swept a defending champion for just the third time in NBA history. Even better, it was their nemesis, the Pistons, who have eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs the last three seasons and from the conference finals the last two. “We were very strong mentally and they were a little weaker mentally and we kept the pressure on them,“ said Jordan in a jubilant, but restrained, Bulls` locker room. “We never broke our focus and they never broke us mentally.“ Although the Pistons would try physically.
It was a last stand of desperate men Monday and the Bulls, as they had in the first three games of the series, would not crack. Paxson went jaw-to-jaw with Bill Laimbeer after being pushed into the stands on a drive, with the Pistons leading 22-20 in the first quarter. “I wanted him to know I wasn`t going to back down,“ said Paxson, who went on to score 10 points in 96 seconds to give the Bulls a lead they would never relinquish. Dennis Rodman then shoved Pippen into the stands early in the second quarter after the Bulls had taken a 42-34 lead. Pippen crashed into the first row of seats and took a few minutes to clear his head.  The attack sent the Bulls` bench into a frenzy and rushing toward midcourt as a flagrant foul, oddly enough, was called on Laimbeer. “You play, you play,“ Grant screamed at Pippen as he wobbled to his feet. “They really weren`t focusing on basketball,“ said Pippen. “Basically, Rodman`s been making those stupid plays for the last couple of years, but I`ve been retaliating and giving him the opportunity to let that work to his advantage. “We put our main focus into basketball, as we have all this season,“ added Pippen, who was marvelous throughout the series, averaging 22 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists while loudly answering his critics and doubters. “I wanted the opportunity to play in the conference finals again,“ said Pippen. “And I did.“ As did everyone. The Bulls simply overwhelmed the Pistons. Detroit had come into the game talking about refusing to lose on its home court. The Pistons had changed their lineup to add scoring (Mark Aguirre for Rodman). And Monday they finally got some production from James Edwards and Laimbeer. The pair totaled 25 points after combining for 27 points in the first three games. Interestingly, the Pistons were drawn into the Bulls` style by trying to outscore Chicago and quicken the pace. It was a virtual death sentence. In the four games, the Pistons ended up leading for just over 13 minutes of the 192 played. “We held off a good first-quarter charge and then played a good six minutes to open the second quarter and they didn`t have the ability to respond,“ said Jackson. This time it was the Pistons sitting glumly on the bench at the end. “They didn`t have anything taken from them,“ said Cartwright. “It wasn`t the referees or a last-second shot. We just beat `em.“ The Bulls took a 19-point lead late in the third quarter. They were ahead 96-76 two minutes into the fourth quarter. “This is a team that`s humiliated us in the past, mocked us, beat us physically,“ said Jackson. “We`ll celebrate, but not to the point we`ve won everything-which is our goal. We`ll celebrate because we beat Detroit. After three years, we deserve a shot.““We`re very happy for their effort and the way our young players like Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant have hung together well and found a way to do it.“
The Bulls did it against the wizards, the two-time defending champion Pistons, the Bad Boys : Zeke, Buddha, Worm, Spider and Microwave. Call `em toast. They really weren`t wizards after all, just a bunch of old guys hiding behind a screen of terrorism. “We didn`t expect to sweep this team,“ said Jordan, who led the Bulls with 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. “We felt we could beat this team, but to beat them four straight and beat them here convincingly was a surprise. But we knew we were playing good basketball and we beat them in a convincing fashion. “You have to give a lot of people credit, the team as a whole, not one individual or two,“ said Jordan. “We saw what we wanted and we did it as a team. We had some lumps, bruises and cuts, but we stuck to playing good basketball-that`s what the Bulls did.“ It meant the end for the Pistons` title run, their three-peat hopes turning to peat moss. “There`ll be no sad songs for this team,“ said Pistons coach Chuck Daly. “Three years in the finals, we`ve got two rings to show for it, but any club that can handle us four straight deserves to move on. They`ll definitely contend for an NBA title. They were a better club than we were in this series.“ Awfully good, really. With Pippen scoring 23 points and adding 10 assists, Grant scoring 16 points and getting nine rebounds and John Paxson contributing all 12 of his points in a frenzied first quarter, the Bulls moved to the edge of NBA history.


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