After two games, the Michael-Magic series has become the Magical Michael series.
Michael Jordan staged a spectacular display of teamwork, passing, shooting and aerial artistry. Magic Johnson was stifled by Scottie Pippen's bump-and-grind defense.The Chicago Bulls relied on sensational shooting and re-awakened aggressiveness to even the best-of-7 NBA Finals at one game apiece Wednesday night with a 107-86 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers.
"They attacked and we didn't attack," Johnson said.
"It was a game that you rarely see at this time of the season," Los Angeles' James Worthy said, "a game where nothing goes right for one team and everything perfect for the other."
The Lakers will try to reverse that trend Friday night in the first of three games at Los Angeles. All they have to do is find a way to stop Jordan.
The Bulls' star made only one of three shots in the first 20 minutes as he got his teammates involved. Then he buried his next 13 attempts, mostly jumpers, and finished with 33 points on 15-of-18 shooting.
Chicago, shaking off its opening-game nervousness, set an NBA Finals record by hitting 50 of 81 shots, a percentage of 61.7. The old mark of 61.5 was set by the Lakers against Boston on June 4, 1987.
John Paxson made all eight of his shots and Horace Grant hit 10-of-13. Combined with Jordan, they connected on 33 of 39. The entire Los Angeles team hit only 30 of 73.
Jordan, as usual, outdid everyone.
"He can do the impossible, the unbelievable," said Johnson, who had only 14 points. "It was his game."
Even Jordan, himself the master of the miraculous, was impressed.
With 7:46 left in the game, he made a layup that gave the Bulls their biggest lead, 97-71. It was no ordinary layup.
He took a pass from Cliff Levingston in the lane and drove. Encountering the long arms of Laker forward Sam Perkins while in midair, Jordan shifted the ball from his right hand to his left as he was descending and laid it in off the backboard.
Hearing the roar of the crowd, he bent at the waist, pumped his fist in front of him and made a facial expression indicating he may have surprised himself.
"He had it going from outside," Johnson said, "then he drove down the lane, put (the ball) in one hand, then the other, then floated about five more yards, said, `Well, I don't know,' then he put it off the glass."
"It's just one of those creative moves," Jordan said. "Sometimes I don't know what's going to happen."
He also succeeded on a more human level. He made excellent passes to set up easy inside baskets in the first half and hit normal mid-range jumpers. He finished with 13 assists and seven rebounds. Pippen and Horace Grant added 20 points each for the Bulls. Pippen also had 10 assists
In Chicago's 93-91 loss in Sunday's opener, his teammates watched as Jordan put on a one-man show, scoring 36 points. On Wednesday night, he made sure they established early the inside game that had been missing.
"Once he gets going offensively, he can roll over teams," Chicago coach Phil Jackson said. "He did a great job getting everybody involved on the offensive end."
James Worthy led Los Angeles with 24 points and Vlade Divac had 16. Johnson, who had a triple-double and was the key to the Lakers' opening victory, sank only four of his 13 shots and added 10 assists and seven rebounds.
"Pippen did a great job," Johnson said. "He was bodying, hitting, moving his feet. They're trying to wear me out or take the ball out of my hand."
Jordan guarded him in the opener, but after he picked up his second foul with 4:05 left in the first quarter Wednesday night, Pippen took over.
"I was trying to defend against Magic full court," Pippen said. "I left the offense to Michael and he came through big."
A stuff by Divac gave Los Angeles its last lead, 3736, with 4:16 left in the first half. Jordan had just two points and three shots at that point.
But he scored the Bulls' next four baskets in a span of 1:38, giving them a 44-40 lead. They led 48-43 at halftime, then made 17 of 20 shots to go ahead 86-69 after three quarters.
"We executed very well in the second half," Levingston said. "The key to this game is that we did not have the jitters as we had in the first game."
With the score 56-51, Jordan hit an 18-footer to begin a 30-18 run in the final 8:19 of the third quarter. The closest Los Angeles came after that was 86-71.
Still, the Lakers got what they wanted. By splitting the first two games, they grabbed the homecourt advantage.
"I think our team still has a lot of confidence," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We can't let them dictate the play against us at home. I think that was the difference (Wednesday), their level of aggression."
"We came out at halftime really pumped up," Jordan said. "We need to play at the same level of intensity in LA."