David Robinson hit four free throws in the final 30 seconds Friday night, helping the San Antonio Spurs overcome blowing a 21-point lead for a 110-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
All five starters finished in double figures for the Spurs, 49-24. Sean Elliott led San Antonio with 25 points while Robinson added 24 and Terry Cummings had 19, allowing him to surpass the 15,000-point mark in his nine-year career.Michael Jordan finished with 39 points for the Bulls, including 27 in the final quarter to lead the Chicago comeback.
The loss, combined with Portland's win over Orlando, dropped Chicago a game behind the Trail Blazers for the league's best record. It also marked just the fifth loss at home this season for the Bulls, now 32-5 at Chicago Stadium and 55-19 overall, and prevented them from clinching the Central Division title.
San Antonio began the third quarter with a 13-4 run to open a 16-point advantage. The Spurs built their lead to 21, the last time at 87-66 a minute into the final quarter, before the Bulls began charging.
Craig Hodges nailed back-to-back three-pointers, then added a conventional jumper and another three-pointer a few minutes later to bring Chicago within 93-80.
San Antonio still led 96-81 with 5:50 remaining, but Jordan scored 5 straight points to start a 10-1 run that closed the deficit to 97-91 with 3:46 left. After a Robinson tap-in, Horace Grant hit a jumper and Jordan converted a three-point play to make the score 99-96 with 2:36 left.
A three-pointer by Scottie Pippen with 1:18 to play brought Chicago within 100-99 and Grant had a chance to tie it with 32 seconds left, but hit only one of two free throws to leave the Bulls trailing 103-102.
Robinson grabbed the rebound of the missed free throw, was fouled by Jordan and sank both free throws with 29 seconds left to build the lead back to three. After a Jordan bank shot, Robinson fed Elliott underneath for a dunk.
Jordan hit two free throws with 4.5 seconds left to bring Chicago within 107-106, but Robinson followed suit with 3.6 seconds to go.
Jordan went to the line again with 2.6 seconds remaining, hit his first free-throw attempt to make it 109-107 but missed the second purposely. Cummings came out with the rebound for San Antonio and hit one of two free throws for the final margin.
Indiana 117, Washington 103
At Indianapolis, Reggie Miller scored 22 points and Vern Fleming added 21, helping the Indiana Pacers clinch an NBA Eastern Conference playoff spot with a victory over the Washington Bullets.
Washington closed within 86-83 with 11:05 remaining on a Ledell Eackles layup, but Indiana extended its lead to 100-87 with 7:15 left on a George McCloud three-pointer. The Pacers led by at least 6 points the rest of the way.
Chuck Person and Rik Smits scored 13 points each for Indiana, while Micheal Williams, Detlef Schrempf and Mike Sanders added 10 apiece. The Pacers reached the .500 mark for the fourth time in the last two weeks at 37-37.
Cavaliers 104, Hornets 101)
At Richfield, Ohio, Craig Ehlo scored 22 points and sank a free throw with 23.6 seconds remaining that gave Cleveland the lead for good, and Darnell Valentine added 16 points to lead the Cavaliers to a win over the Charlotte Hornets.
Danny Ferry and John "Hot Rod" Williams scored 15 points each as Cleveland won their fourth straight home game and raised their home mark against Charlotte to 6-0. The Hornets were led by J.R. Reid's 26 points and 11 rebounds and 20 points from Rex Chapman.
Cleveland led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, but the Hornets came back to tie the game 85-85 on a Muggsy Bogues' drive with 5:53 left, and a Reid free throw gave Charlotte the lead for the first time since the first quarter at 88-87 with 4:40 left.
Pistons 101, Timberwolves 82
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Isiah Thomas had 15 points and 11 assists in his return to the lineup after missing 32 games, leading the Detroit Pistons to a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Thomas had not played since before his surgery Jan. 29 to fuse three bones in the 10-time All-Star's right wrist. Doctors cleared Thomas to play earlier Friday, and the Detroit guard started the game and played with a splint to restrict his wrist motion.
Mark Aguirre scored 20 points and John Salley 19 for the Pistons, 18-14 since without Thomas. Joe Dumars scored 15 but saw his team-record consecutive free-throw streak end at 62.
Tony Campbell led the Timberwolves with 22 points, while Pooh Richardson scored 14.
Blazers 115, Magic 98
At Orlando, Fla., the Portland Trail Blazers won their ninth consecutive game, wiping out a 12-point, second-half deficit with a barrage of 3-point shots and rolling to a victory over the Orlando Magic.
Terry Porter scored 18 of his 29 points in the third quarter when he hit 7-of-7 from the field, including three 3-pointers to key a 29-9 burst that carried the Blazers to a 78-70 lead.
Porter hit another 3-pointer to put Portland ahead by 11 and finished 6-of-9 on long-range jumpers to take the wind out of the Magic, which led 61-49 before fading. Jerome Kersey added 26 points and Buck Williams grabbed 21 rebounds for the Blazers, who played the last three quarters without Clyde Drexler.