The Bulls seized a commanding 2-0 series victory over the rival Knicks with a 91-80 win that was closer than the final score might indicate. This. Is. ‘90s. Basketball. Observations:
Non-Jordan Bulls appreciation blurb
Michael Jordan made light work of the Knicks once again, pouring in a cool 28 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. He was locked in for long stretches and, as such, routinely looked unstoppable. But let’s talk about some of the other guys for a second:
Scottie Pippen: Jeff Mangurten of The Score said it best: “He would've been a Hall of Famer even if he didn't attempt a shot in his career.” Pippen missed 14 of his first 17 shots and had just 10 points through three quarters, but you’d never have known it. Even when the shots aren’t falling he impacts the game at such a high level and in so many different ways his presence perpetually looms. Oh, and then he scored nine points (including a towering fastbreak dunk) in the fourth and drew a crucial offensive foul as the Bulls pulled away. He finished with 19 points, six assists, four steals and a block. He also hit three 3-pointers in spite of those early shooting woes. There aren’t enough words in the dictionary for Scottie Pippen.
Preposterous sequence by Scottie. Hooks around to strip Oakley, no look assist to Harp on the break, then steals inbound pass and cans 3. He’s magnificent #BullsRewind— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) March 26, 2020
Dennis Rodman: Rodman pulled down a game-high 19 rebounds and was a bull in the china shop on the glass all night. The place I notice that patented ‘90s physicality’ the most is on the boards, and Rodman clearly thrives on bumping and bodying opposing bigs. A much-needed dynamic against this bruising Knicks frontcourt.
Fittingly, Rodman puts it out of reach for good in the 4th with a dunk. What a game from Worm. Bulls finished plus-16 on glass in extremely physical game and Rodman grabbed 19 rebounds. #BullsRewind— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 26, 2020
Luc Longley: Speaking of bruisers, man, is Longley underrated. He’s been so solid as a post defender all postseason long so far, and continued that trend matched up with Patrick Ewing in this one — so much so that Johnny “Red” Kerr sounded irreparably crestfallen when he thought Longley had fouled out on a block attempt late in the fourth quarter with the game still in the balance (the foul in question was only Longley’s fifth). Ewing finished 9-for-19 from the floor, Longley with three blocks. That’ll do.
Bulls-Knicks might as well be a synonym with bloodbath
Another grind-it-out affair. I’m beginning to see a pattern.
1995-96 Bulls led the Knicks 61-59 after three quarters— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) March 26, 2020
2019-20 Bulls allowed an average of 58.8 points per FIRST HALF in ten games post-All-Star break#BullsRewind
Times have changed. The Bulls have changed.
Matters peaked early in the fourth quarter, when Ewing went after Bulls’ assistant coach Jim Cleamons on the host’s bench. An assistant coach! The Bulls went on to win that final period 30-21, but it was only that tight by way of some mop-up work by the Knicks’ reserves late (at one point, they went seven-and-a-half minutes without a bucket). For the second game in a row, these teams combined to shoot under 40 percent from the floor.
But when this Bulls team turns it on, they’re insurmountable. As I watched the UC rock and shake through my television screen in the midst of a 27-10 Bulls run to open the fourth, I found myself nostalgic for a time I never knew.
Not pictured, but as the Bulls rained hellfire on the Knicks early in the fourth, Winfrey was often cut to celebrating like mad. She was rewarded for her fervor with Rodman’s game-worn jersey right after the final buzzer sounded.
“I believe all of Chicago must unite to defeat the Knicks,” she said during an on-camera interview midway through the game.
We’ll skip over Game 3 of this series (a 102-99 Knicks win at MSG) and get back to doing just that Friday night on NBC Sports Chicago.
Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.