The title ticker flicks to six. The Bulls overcame an 18-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Orlando Magic 93-88 and grab a 2-0 Eastern Conference series lead. Observations:
A team effort
This game was such that The Sports Channel's player of the game award was bestowed upon 'The Chicago Bulls.'
At a glance, that may feel peculiar. Only three Bulls tallied double-figure point totals (Jordan, Pippen, Rodman) and as a group they shot 40% from the field. But this one was truly a clinic in smothering defense, and contributions from all around made it possible.
Pippen's length and work on the glass (he had six offensive rebounds) seemed to impact the game at its most crucial moments. Ron Harper ended the night with two steals, but you could have said he had 10 and I would have believed you. He was everywhere, and continues to cement himself as on the short-list of most underrated contributors during the dynasty. Rodman and the team's rotating cast of bigs played a huge role in bottling Shaq as the Bulls made their decisive third-quarter run. Jud Buechler and Steve Kerr poured in timely buckets. The team's fullcourt press ground the Magic down to perfection.
The Bulls defense was so suffocating in the final 4 minutes of the 3rd that Orlando was barely able to even get the ball to Shaq. #BullsRewind— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) April 4, 2020
All in all, it amounted to flipping a 15-point halftime deficit (which in the third quarter grew to 18) into a five-point victory — and a demoralizing one at that. Fifty-three first-half points by the Magic against this team was a feat. Their 35 in the latter half compared to 55 for the Bulls) felt a correction. Soul-snatching stuff.
The 15-point halftime deficit remains the largest the Bulls have overturned to win a game in the team's playoff history. #BullsRewind— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) April 4, 2020
A different time
The United Center was an absolute madhouse, you could feel it through the television screen. These Bulls give 'flipping the switch' new meaning.
Penny gets the "Hit The Road, Jack" treatment after his 6th foul sends MJ to the FT line and the UC crowd is loving it. #BullsRewind— Matt Peck (@Bulls_Peck) April 4, 2020
It all culminated with 'MVP' chants for Michael Jordan in the game's waning moments, as he put the finishing touches on a 35-point, six-assist, four-steal outing. It is astounding how routine he makes these types of nights look.
And, oh yeah. This was a thing.
No, I mean a really different time
In a playoff run filled with celebrities, this has to be the most riotous beneficiary of a Rodman jersey toss so far:
Brian freaking Knobbs. Chicago really was the center of the basketball universe.
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.