Michael Jordan, hampered by a strained back, needs a little time to loosen up and get his game going.
By the time he was playing his game Tuesday night at Pontiac, Mich., it was too late, the Detroit Pistons were in charge and on their way to a 93-82 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
In the first game of the best-of-seven second round playoff series, Jordan had 14 points in the fourth quarter, but his 29 was his lowest output in six playoff games.
The rest of the Bulls had only two points in the final period, not nearly enough against the Pistons, who made up for poor shooting (37.8%) with a tenacious defense.
"We did everything possible and he still ended up with 29," Detroit Coach Chuck Daly said. "I think he was a little tired tonight and he'll come back stronger Thursday night."
Detroit's Adrian Dantley had 23 points, 4 in a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter after Jordan cut their lead to 79-72.
Jordan made only 1 of 7 shots in the first half. His 9 for 15 in the second half was too little, too late.
"I didn't get off to a good start tonight," Jordan said. "I'm not 100%, but I'm not less than 85%. It took me a while to get loose."
Teammates Scottie Pippen and Charles Oakley, who were so prominent in the hard-fought series victory over Cleveland, apparently never got loose. In 23 minutes, Pippen was 1 for 6. Oakley, who has complained because he wasn't getting the ball for enough shots, was 2 for 11.
Denver 126, Dallas 115--Fat Lever, who injured his knee during the Nuggets' win over Seattle in the first round, is healthy again.
Lever just missed a triple-double at Denver as the sharpshooting Nuggets took a 1-0 lead with an easy victory. Lever had 30 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists to lead the fast-paced tempo.
Lever scored 12 points in the first quarter to give the Nuggets a narrow lead. When Mike Evans and Jay Vincent came off the bench to add scoring punch, the Nuggets led by 12 at halftime and by 21 points in the third quarter.
Mark Aguirre, who scored 11 points in the first quarter, finished with 26 points.
The Mavericks made only 6 of 23 shots in the second quarter and 41 of 92 in the game. The Nuggets shot 57.8%