Originally created 04/12/98

Bulls whip Magic for 60th victory



CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls clinched the best record in the East with their 60th victory, beating the Orlando Magic 87-78 Saturday night behind 37 points -- and a left-handed airball from the free-throw line -- from Michael Jordan.

The two-time defending champions (60-18) have earned homecourt advantage at least through the first three rounds of the playoffs. The Bulls are also one game ahead of Utah for the best overall record after the Jazz were beaten at Minnesota on Saturday night.

Jordan, who shot 15-of-25 from the floor but only 4-of-10 from the line, airballed a left-handed free throw with the Bulls ahead by 17 late in the third quarter.

Jordan, who sat out the first seven minutes of the final quarter before re-entering the game when Orlando got within 10, also had two assists, giving him 5,000 for his career.

Chicago, which had a 13-game winning streak ended Thursday in Cleveland, jumped out early and held off a late surge by the Magic, damaging Orlando's longshot bid for the eighth playoff spot in the East.

Scottie Pippen added 13 points and Dennis Rodman had 10 rebounds and six assists before he was ejected with 5:04 left after being assessed his second technical foul for mildly kicking the ball after a foul call.

Nick Anderson had 21 points and Derek Strong 14 points and 13 rebounds for Orlando, which got as close as seven in the final quarter.

Jordan hit his first six shots and finished the first quarter with 18 points as the Bulls raced to a 29-11 lead. Jordan took a rest and the Magic rallied to within seven before Chicago stretched the lead back to 14 at the half on late 3-pointers by Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler.

Grizzlies 105

Trail Blazers 96 (OT)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Shareef Abdur-Rahim matched his season high with 31 points, including four in overtime, as the Vancouver Grizzlies snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Vancouver's Tony Massenburg, filling in for injured center Bryant Reeves (bruised right knee), finished with a season-high 22 points before he was ejected for picking up his second technical foul with 2:59 left in overtime.

Massenburg, who played a season-high 37 minutes, was whistled for his first technical in the third quarter after earning his fourth foul. He picked up his second in overtime for taunting after he dunked over Portland's Brian Grant and then yelled in his face.

Massenburg's dunk gave the Grizzlies a 92-90 lead that they did not relinquish. Abdur-Rahim followed up with a four-foot running hook shot, giving Vancouver a 94-91 lead with 2:10 left. Michael Smith then sealed the victory 40 seconds later putting back his own miss.

Cavaliers 106

76ers 95

CLEVELAND -- Wesley Person shot 7-for-10 from 3-point range and scored 25 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers had their highest scoring half of the season -- 70 points -- to beat the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Cavaliers, who improved to 20-0 when scoring 100 or more points, came back from an early 20-point deficit and moved within 2 1/2 games of Atlanta for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Person scored 17 points in the second half as Cleveland overcame a 51-36 halftime deficit. Three rookies were instrumental in Cleveland's comeback. Brevin Knight had 20 points and 14 assists, Derek Anderson scored 20 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Philadelphia's Allen Iverson scored 32 points before fouling out with 57 seconds left. Derrick Coleman, who was ejected for arguing with referee Gary Benson with 7:33 to play, had 13 points and Scott Williams scored 11.

Iverson's 14 first-half points helped the 76ers their largest lead, 48-28. Cleveland began its comeback late in the second quarter, outscoring the 76ers 8-3 to close the half.

Timberwolves 110

Jazz 103

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves guaranteed the first winning season in franchise history and dealt the Jazz a blow in their hopes to win homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory.

Stephon Marbury had 30 points and 10 assists and Kevin Garnett had 22 points for the Wolves, who handed Utah just its third loss in 25 games.

The Jazz entered the game tied with Chicago for the best record in the NBA and with the tiebreaker advantage over the Bulls. The defeat also cut Utah's lead over idle Seattle to one game in the race for the best record in the Western Conference.

Karl Malone had 37 points and 12 rebounds for Utah in his return from a one-game suspension.

Minnesota (42-36) tied a season high with 11 3-pointers on 15 attempts to extend its franchise-best victory total. The Wolves were 40-42 last year, their best showing until this season.

Playing with just nine players because of injuries, the Wolves won for the ninth time in 12 games and matched their second-longest winning streak of the season -- four games.

Mavericks 99

Nuggets 81

DALLAS -- Shawn Bradley had 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks as the Dallas Mavericks ended a five-game losing streak with a victory over the Denver Nuggets.

Dallas won three of the four games with Denver this season, giving the Mavericks only their second season series victory of 1997-98. Dallas completed a 4-0 sweep of the Vancouver Grizzlies earlier this season.

Erick Strickland added 16 points and Michael Finley had 15 to help the Mavericks to their 20th win of the season.

Danny Fortson and Anthony Goldwire scored 16 points apiece to pace the Nuggets, who were trying for their second two-game winning streak of the season.