DJ Stifles MJ as 86 Cs Sweep Bulls
he sixth foul was blown with 5:24 left. Dennis Johnson had driven the right side around Michael Jordan. Jordan was yelling at official Ed Rush, whose whistle still was perched between his lips. The crowd was booing. The Celtics led, 109-89.
"Michael Jordan has 10 rebounds," the PA announcer boomed as Jordan stalked the Chicago sideline. "Michael Jordan has 9 assists," he said as Jordan sat at the end of the bench. "And Michael Jordan has set an NBA play- off record for a three-game play-off series," he said, though he was barely heard.
He said nothing of Jordan's point total for this third game.
Yet most of the Chicago Stadium crowd of 18,968 had remained through the dismal 33-19 third quarter. Almost all were standing, applauding. Jordan ducked slowly and they cheered more loudly. Jordan covered his head in a white towel (Dennis Johnson was at this time missing his second free throw), and they went berserk.
He finished the season with 19 points. Whether this was his fault, or his teammates' fault, or the Celtics' fault, or even Dean Smith's fault, didn't matter so much. What was important was that Jordan -- who had averaged 56 points in the first two first-round games at Boston -- scored only five in last night's final 36 minutes.
"I know a lot of people came in expecting me to get 50 points," Jordan said after the Bulls finished their season with a 122-104 loss to the Celtics. "I don't think it's fair for me or anybody else to expect me to come out and score 50 points a night. I had 10 rebounds. I had a couple of assists. I'm happy with that. I'm very happy that I did contribute in different areas."
So are the Celtics. After Jordan dropped in a left-handed drive over DJ on Chicago's first trip down, the Celtics began to double-team him. They threw Kevin McHale at him the following possession, and Jordan turned it over. Next time it was Larry Bird. Everybody got a piece of Air.
"I'd be ready to make my move and somebody would come over and I'd have to get rid of it," Jordan said, though he was the game's leading scorer with 14 going into the second period. Two minutes later, he had earned his third foul, and several factors crashed upon him as if the cables holding the giant stadium scoreboard had been cut.