The New York Knicks aren't making this easy for the Chicago Bulls.
For the fourth straight game, the Knicks gave the Bulls a tougher battle than many expected. And this time, the Bulls didn't have Michael Jordan bailing them out down the stretch.But after blowing an 11-point lead and going scoreless for more than six minutes in the final period, Chicago got two crucial baskets from backup center Bill Wennington and beat New York 94-91 Sunday night.
Game 5 in the best-of-7 series is Tuesday night, with Chicago leading 3-1.
"They can look back and say they should have won all four games, but that's not what the situation is," Jordan said. "This game came down to who wanted it most and who made the big shots down the stretch."
Jordan didn't have a field goal in the fourth quarter, and he didn't score a point in the period until 11 seconds remained and his two foul shots gave the Bulls a 94-91 lead.
The Knicks had a chance to try for a tie, but John Starks had trouble handling a pass from Anthony Mason and was called for walking with 1.2 seconds left - just before he drained a 3-pointer that would have tied it.
Chicago inbounded cleanly to Wennington and the horn sounded, and the Bulls had dodged another close encounter with their old playoff rival.
"We didn't want to go home 2-2 because we'd start to lose control of the series," Jordan said. "Right now, we've got them 3-1 and we've got three games to win one. We'd like to finish it as soon as possible."
Wennington broke a 6:02 scoreless drought with a dunk over Patrick Ewing with 1:32 left, then put Chicago ahead for good on a baseline jumper with 37 seconds to go after Ewing was called for traveling.
"I didn't think either were travels," Ewing said. "I didn't think mine was and I didn't think (Starks') was."
New York had a chance to go ahead, but Ewing missed a baseline jumper with 20 seconds left. Jordan then made two foul shots with 11.2 seconds left, setting the stage for the traveling call on Starks.
"I'm not rich enough to comment," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said of the call. "We had a chance to win it. I feel badly for our guys. They deserved better."
Jordan, who scored 44, 28 and 46 points in the first three games of the series, finished with 27 points but went 0-for-6 from the field in the fourth period. He played the final 7:17 with five fouls.
Ron Harper scored 18 points for the Bulls, who had only two players in double figures for the third time in four games.
The Knicks were outrebounded 46-28 overall and 23-4 on the offensive end. Dennis Rodman had 19 rebounds to lead the Bulls.
Ewing led New York with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Charles Oakley had 17 points, Harper 15 and Starks 13.
Chicago opened its 11-point lead late in the third quarter and still held it with 8:58 left. But that's when the scoreless streak started and New York started catching up.
Starks made two foul shots after Dennis Rodman picked up his fifth foul with 6:22 left, then converted a 1-on-3 fastbreak and drew a foul to cut Chicago's lead to 86-83.
Ewing made two straight jump shots to put the Knicks ahead 89-86. But Wennington broke the spell by dunking over a fallen Ewing, and after Ewing made one last jumper with 1:16 left, the Knicks would not score again.
Scottie Pippen got the last of his nine points on an alley-oop off a pass from Jordan with 1:01 left, pulling Chicago to 91-90. Wennington's baseline jumper over Ewing's outstretched arms gave the lead back to Chicago for good.