The Boston Celtics, minus All-Star forward Larry Bird for most of the season, let the Chicago Bulls feel how life is without their own superstar.
"It gives them a taste of what it's all about to be without your heart and soul," said Boston guard Brian Shaw after the Celtics coasted to a 104-95 victory Wednesday night over the Michael Jordan-less Bulls.Jordan, the NBA's leading scorer averaging 33.4 points per game and last season's MVP, missed the contest with a pulled groin suffered in Tuesday's 90-88 loss versus Philadelphia. It snapped a string of 235 consecutive games for the All-Star guard.
Reggie Lewis scored a game-high 22 points while Kevin Mchale and Robert Parish each chipped in with 19 to pace the win.
"It really doesn't matter if they had Michael Jordan or not," said Lewis. "It didn't matter for them when they beat us three times without Larry Bird."
Missing Jordan's penetrating ability, Chicago went to the foul line only six times in the game. The Bulls relied on outside shooting and fell way behind early.
Boston shot 76 percent in the first quarter and built a 38-19 edge after one quarter.
"When we come out and play like we did today it looks like Michael is everything to us," said Chicago guard Sam Vincent.
Lewis' dunk broke a 10-10 tie and ignited a 14-3 Celtics' run midway through the first quarter. Parish scored 7 points and Lewis added 6 in the spree.
Boston closed the quarter with a 10-2 spurt, pulling to its 19-point advantage at the break.
The Celtics connected on 16 of 21 attempts in the opening quarter while the Bulls shot only 38 percent and committed six turnovers.
"It's the first time in three years we played without Michael," said Bulls guard John Paxson. "We made a lot of turnovers early and we looked kind of out of sync without him."
In the second quarter, Boston continued to gradually increase its lead, opening a 61-36 advantage on reserve guard Kevin Gamble's basket with 2:01 left in the half.
Nuggets 112, Hornets 99
At Charlotte, N.C., Alex English scored 31 points, including eight during a 19-4 run early in the third quarter, to spark Denver. Michael Adams added 20 for the Nuggets. Kelly Tripucka led Charlotte, losers of five straight, with 21 points and became the 148th player to reach the 10,000-point plateau. Kurt Rambis had 16 points and 18 rebounds for the Hornets.
Bullets 119, Hawks 111
At Landover, Md., Bernard King scored 12 of his 31 points in the final 6:02 and Jeff Malone added 30 points to help Washington win for the eighth time in 10 games. Atlanta, which got 38 points from Dominique Wilkins, has lost three in a row.
Pistons 112, SuperSonics 96
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Isiah Thomas scored 27 points and Bill Laimbeer contributed 20 points and 19 rebounds to lead Detroit to its fifth straight victory. Derrick McKey led Seattle with 21 points, while Dale Ellis added 18.
Mavericks 99, Trail Blazers 92
At Dallas, Adrian Dantley scored 23 points and started a pivotal Dallas surge in the final 2:30. Rolando Blackman scored 22 points for the Mavericks while James Donaldson added 19 plus 16 rebounds. Clyde Drexler led Portland with 23 points.
Lakers 127, Heat 87
At Miami, Tony Campbell scored 19 points off the bench, helping Los Angeles hand the Heat its sixth straight loss. Byron Scott added 16 points for the Lakers, while A.C. Green had 15 points and Orlando Woolridge 14. John Shasky scored 18 points to lead Miami.