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NBA ROUNDUP : Bulls Cool Down Suns in Second Half, 108-102

January 22, 1992|DAN HAFNER

Even teams on a roll can't handle the Chicago Bulls these days.

On Sunday, they knocked off the Detroit Pistons, who had won five in a row and 12 out of 14.

Then came the Phoenix Suns, the hottest team in the West. They had won seven in a row, and the Suns ran out to an early 53-39 lead Tuesday night at Chicago.

Naturally, it was Michael Jordan who brought the Bulls charging from behind to a 108-102 victory, their 10th in a row.

Jordan scored 23 of his 30 points in the second half, including five in a 7-0 spurt at the start of the fourth quarter that gave the Bulls command.

The Suns led most of the way until the Bulls outscored them, 10-4, in the last five minutes of the third quarter to take a 79-77 lead. Phoenix, one of the top scoring teams in the NBA, had only 44 points in the second half.

"Our defense got me going," Jordan said. "I felt they (the Bulls) were trying to come to me."

The Suns were doing well until Kevin Johnson hurt his back late in the third quarter when he was upended by Scottie Pippen. He played only two more minutes the rest of the game.

"I thought we could win this one," Johnson said. "It kind of took the wind out of us when I had to leave. Often this team has done well without me. Tonight we couldn't pick it up."

Johnson had 18 points before the injury, including a 65-foot shot at the buzzer ending the first quarter that gave the Suns a 33-26 lead.

Dan Majerle came off the bench to make another three-pointer to start the second quarter, and the Suns went on to build a 14-point lead before the Bulls got in gear.

Coach Phil Johnson said part of the reason for the Bulls' slow start was that the teams play each other only twice a season.

"We had to find our rhythm,"' he said. "These Western Division teams we only see a couple of times and it takes a while to find our rhythm. When we did, our defense turned it up a notch."

The loss dropped the Suns into third place behind Portland in the Pacific Division. The Suns trail Golden State by 1 1/2 games.

Houston 117, Milwaukee 107--Sleepy Floyd, who has been living up to his nickname much of this season, was wide awake when he came off the bench at Houston.

Floyd made 13 of 18 shots and snapped the Rockets out of their lethargy, scoring 31 points and helping put an end to a two-game losing streak.

Floyd scored 16 points in a hectic fourth quarter in which the Rockets wiped out a 95-89 deficit with eight minutes left and won going away.

"It was a challenge to come out and shoot well after all the talk about us not having an outside shooter," Floyd said.

Hakeem Olajuwon had 23 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Atlanta 128, Seattle 119--Dominique Wilkins scored 29 points at Seattle and the Hawks improved their record to 2-2 on their toughest trip of the season.

The Hawks, fourth in the Central Division, lost to Utah and the Clippers to start the six-game journey. But they beat Denver before winning at Seattle for the first time since 1988. The Hawks play at Golden State tonight and finish the trip at Portland Friday night.

Wilkins scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to thwart any SuperSonic hopes of a rally.

With Duane Ferrell scoring 20, the Hawks' reserves outscored the Seattle bench, 52-9.

Sacramento 94, Denver 85--After dominating for three quarters and building a 77-62 lead at Sacramento, the Kings had a scare before finally improving their home record to 9-8.

Dikembe Mutombo led a rally that enabled the Nuggets to cut the lead to 85-80 with four minutes left. But the Kings refused to wilt.

Orlando 105, Minnesota 92--It was a battle between the two weakest teams in the league and the Magic proved best on its home court.

Nick Anderson had 26 points and the Magic blocked a club-record 13 shots to end a nine-game home losing streak.

The Magic, worst in the league at blocking shots with a 3.7 average, blocked eight in the first quarter.

Minnesota's sixth loss in a row dropped the Timberwolves to 7-32. The Magic, which has won only four of its last 30, is 9-29.

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