Facebook Twitter

CHICAGO REGAINS CONTROL OF SERIES WITH 94-84 WIN

SHARE CHICAGO REGAINS CONTROL OF SERIES WITH 94-84 WIN

Beating the Chicago Bulls once is not much of a feat this year.

Beating them twice in a row is proving to be impossible.The Bulls, who split their first two home games in three consecutive series, have now won Game 3 on the road on all three occasions, including Sunday night's 94-84 victory over Portland that gave them a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.

"We talked about champions getting off the floor and coming back," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "We talked a lot about that yesterday."

It was the Trail Blazers' first loss at home in nine playoff games and matched the franchise's low point total in postseason history.

"I think when we have our backs against the wall, we come out a little more focused," said Michael Jordan, who scored 26 points. "We let our defense lead us. That's the mark of a good team."

With their fifth victory in eight playoff road games, the Bulls continued to take a roller-coaster ride in the postseason, in sharp contrast to their romp in 1991 when they won 15 of 17 games on the way to their first NBA championship.

Chicago has six defeats in this year's playoffs, but they have not lost consecutive games.

"It's been our trademark in the playoffs; we've been able to bounce back," guard John Paxson said. "We've been a good road team. Now I hope we don't have a letdown in Game 4."

The Bulls did it with defense, holding the Trail Blazers to 36 percent shooting. Portland also matched its playoff-low in scoring in franchise history, having lost 99-84 to Seattle in a 1978 Western Conference game.

"We made a point to forget about offense and commit to our defense," Jackson said. "We were able to make them erratic through pressure. We were able to get them to turn the ball over."

"We played tired," Portland coach Rick Adelman said. "Chicago controlled the tempo, we shot poorly and never got in a groove."

See NBA on D2

The homecourt advantage has

vanished for the Western Conference, whose champion is 0-9 at home in the NBA Finals since 1989.

Detroit won two games on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers and three at Portland in winning consecutive titles in 1989-90, while the Bulls beat the Lakers three times at the Forum in 1991. The last Finals victory at home by a Western Conference team was when the Lakers won Game 7 against Detroit in 1988.

Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant scored 18 points apiece for Chicago, while Clyde Drexler had 32 for Portland, which plays host to the Bulls in Games 4 and 5 on Wednesday and Friday nights.

"We had no real movement and we didn't get to our spots," Drexler said. "Basically, we didn't do the things to win that we did all year long. I definitely expected a better effort."

The defenses got so intense and the offenses so sloppy in the fourth quarter that Portland scored only six points and Chicago four in the first 6 minutes.

Two free throws by Drexler made it 74-68 with 5:13 left, but there was no repeat of Game 2 when Chicago blew a 10-point lead in the final 4:36 and lost in overtime.

"We sort of blew that second game, but we definitely had a good feeling coming in here," Pippen said. "We went out there and did it. Once you learn how to play on the road, you know you have to control the tempo."

"They stick to the basics, they know what their strengths are and they don't gravitate away from them," said the Blazers' Buck Williams, who scored 6 points after finishing with 19 in Game 2.

Jordan's jumper started a 10-2 spurt that increased the lead to 84-70 with 2:57 left. Reserve forward Stacey King keyed the burst with a rebound basket, two free throws and a layup.

Drexler's hot scoring down the stretch wasn't enough for Portland to catch up. Danny Ainge, with 12 points, and Kevin Duckworth and Jerome Kersey, with 11 each, were the only other Trail Blazers in double figures.

The Trail Blazers, who trailed by as many as 15 points in the second quarter and 54-45 at halftime, started the second half with a 10-4 spurt to close to 58-55. But they committed four turnovers on their next four possessions, including an offensive foul call on Terry Porter that put the sellout crowd in a booing mood.

Bobby Hansen's 3-pointer capped an 8-0 run that gave the Bulls a 70-58 lead with 1:03 left in the third quarter. Drexler's two free throws with 47 seconds remaining made it a 10-point game going into the final 12 minutes.

Chicago outscored Portland 16-15 in the quarter, making it the lowest-scoring third period in Finals history. The previous low was 33 points by Seattle and Washington in 1979.

Portland went without a field goal from the 2:00 mark of the first period until there were 8 minutes left in the second quarter. Taking advantage of the Blazers' 0-for-9 shooting in that span, the Bulls used a 14-2 run for a 40-26 lead.

Chicago extended the margin to 45-30 before the Trail Blazers, who missed 11 of their first 13 shots in the second period, scored five points on free throws in less than a minute to close within 10.

A rebound basket by King rebuilt Chicago's lead to 52-37 with 2:07 left in the quarter. Then Drexler started an 8-2 run with a 3-pointer and finished it with a left-handed layup with 9.1 seconds remaining, pulling the Blazers to a 54-45 deficit at halftime.

The Bulls, who took most of their shots from outside in losing Game 2, had success by penetrating inside and passing in the first quarter, when they had 12 assists.

Grant, averaging 11.9 points in the playoffs, had 11 points and four assists in the opening period, leading Chicago to a 34-26 lead.

Neither team led by more than 3 points until a three-point play by Grant gave the Bulls a 25-19 advantage with 3:08 left. The Trail Blazers were hurt by 2-for-7 shooting from the free-throw line in the first seven minutes.