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EASTERN CONFERENCE : Bulls Seek to Share Burden With Jordan in Game 5


NEW YORK — The Knicks and Chicago Bulls meet tonight in Game 5, historically the key in a seven-game series, with everyone wondering one thing:

Which Michael Jordan will show up?

Will it be the playmaker who had nine assists by halftime of Game 3, turning it into a Bulls' rout?

Or the superstar of Game 4 who scored 54 points, although his teammates went cold and had to fight the Knicks off in the closing minutes?

His teammates are rooting for the former.

"Michael had a very hot hand and a big game for us," said Scottie Pippen after Monday's game. "However, when that happens, there's a lot of isolation. It disrupted us and allowed the other team to get back in the game.

"Hopefully that will never happen again. It's not that we don't want Michael to get his points, but it makes it tough for others to get in the game and step up when they have to."

Theories abound and change second by second, but the latest is that Game 5 represents the Bulls' best chance to win this series. They have turned the Knicks' momentum around, and now they're the confident team.

Jordan's sore right wrist has been proven sound, and his shooting slump is over.

Pippen, considered the vulnerable Bull, has been the consistent Bull, averaging 21 points.

The Bulls were out-rebounded by 31 in Games 1 and 2 but by three in Games 3 and 4.

Tonight's game is at Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks have won 27 in a row. The Knicks haven't lost at home since the Hawks beat them four months and four days ago.

Knick Coach Pat Riley put Game 4 behind him quickly.

A believer in defining moments, Riley has located another.

"We'll go back to Madison Square Garden," he said. "We'll have a raucous crowd. That will not guarantee us anything. We have to make the greatest effort we've ever made in our lives."

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