Yvette Joseph climbed higher and higher toward her seat in the upper deck of the Georgia Dome, hardly believing how far she was from the court where Michael Jordan was playing.
"I don't think I'm really going to be able to really appreciate this game," she said, squinting to catch a glimpse of the ant-like figures at the opposite end of the arena. "I've got 20-20 vision, but I still don't think I can see."Joseph and her boyfriend, James Watson, drove from Nashville, Tenn., to be part of an NBA-record crowd of 62,046 that packed the Georgia Dome for a chance to see what could be Jordan's final Atlanta appearance.
Actually, not everyone could see His Airness. The ticket demand for the game was so great that the Hawks put an extra 8,000 seats on sale this week, even though they offered no view of the court. Revenues from the $5 tickets will be donated to a relief fund for victims of a deadly tornado that struck north Georgia last week.
"The point was not about making more money," Hawks president Stan Kasten said. "The fans wanted this so badly that we said, `Here you go, come on in."'
Jordan didn't disappoint, scoring 34 points to lead the Bulls to an 89-74 victory. Hundreds of flashbulbs went off every time he touched the ball, and he was cheered loudly as he walked off the court afterward. One fan held up a sign, "Michael for President."
The fans who packed the entire upper deck of the Georgia Dome could view the court - albeit many of them several hundred yards away - since a curtain which normally divides the arena was taken down. But thousands in the lower deck were obscured by a section of seats which is stationed along one side of the court.
NUGGETS 97, WARRIORS 89: At Denver, the Nuggets nailed down victory No. 9 Friday night.
The Nuggets ensured themselves of at least tying the record for fewest victories in a single season as Johnny Newman scored 22 points and LaPhonso Ellis added 21.
The Nuggets (9-63) still need one more win in their final 10 games to eclipse the 9-73 mark of futility set by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73.
MAGIC 100, ROCKETS 75: At Orlando, Fla., Derek Strong scored 20 points and Horace Grant had 19 as the Magic gave coach Chuck Daly his 600th career victory.
The triumph gave the Magic a sweep of the two-game season series for the fourth straight season, although Houston dominated the most meaningful games between the team during that stretch by winning four straight over Orlando in the 1995 NBA Finals.
CELTICS 82, NETS 76: At East Rutherford, N.J., the Celtics rebounded from their lowest scoring half of the season by holding the Nets to 11 second-half field goals.
Nets center Jayson Williams mouthed to the bench that he broke his right thumb with a little less than nine minutes to play after catching a pass. He had it taped and returned to the game, but then walked off the court for good after grabbing a rebound with 4:34 to go.
CAVALIERS 88, PISTONS 87, OT: At Cleveland, Wesley Person hit a 3-point shot with 0.3 seconds left in overtime. Person wrestled away a rebound from the Pistons' Grant Hill with four seconds left, backed out past the 3-point line and let fly.
The shot halted Detroit's season-high four-game winning streak.
HEAT 102, BUCKS 77: At Miami, Alonzo Mourning scored 34 points and the Heat gained their 50th victory of the season.
Mourning shot 13-of-18 from the floor and grabbed 11 rebounds in 36 minutes. Tim Hardaway and reserve center Marty Conlon each added 11 points for the Heat.
SPURS 110, 76ERS 85: At Philadelphia, Tim Duncan scored 32 points, Will Perdue had a career-high 21 and San Antonio shot 92 percent in the third quarter.
Tim Thomas, Derrick Coleman, Joe Smith and Benoit Benjamin all tried and failed to stop Duncan, who grabbed eight rebounds and ended up three points shy of his career high.
PACERS 133, HORNETS 96: At Indianapolis, Reggie Miller scored 24 points before being ejected for a flagrant foul on Vlade Divac.
The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Hornets, who dropped four games behind Indiana in the race for the third playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
SUNS 89, WIZARDS 85: At Phoenix, Cliff Robinson's hook shot in the lane with 11.2 seconds left broke an 85-all tie in a game that featured six lead changes in the final five minutes.
Danny Manning led Phoenix with 18 points and Kevin Johnson came off the bench to score 17 points and hand out 13 assists as the Suns, despite 22 turnovers, snapped a three-game losing streak.
TRAIL BLAZERS 90, KINGS 73: At Sacramento, Calif., Isaiah Rider scored 24 points and Brian Grant had 19 points and 14 rebounds.
The Kings lost their 10th straight game and have dropped 17 of 19. The most consecutive losses in the team's Sacramento era is 11.
TIMBERWOLVES 100, CLIPPERS 98: At Los Angeles, Sam Mitchell scored eight of his 22 points in the fourth quarter Friday night as Minnesota clinched a playoff berth on the Clippers' home court for the second straight year.
Kevin Garnett added 17 points and Strphon Marbury had 12 assists and 10 points, helping the Timberwolves beat the Clippers for the sixth straight time.
KNICKS 97, GRIZZLIES 89, OT: At Vancouver, British Columbia, Larry Johnson scored four of his 23 points in the final two minutes of overtime as New York improved to 3-0 on its four-game Western road trip.
Team W L Pct GB
Utah 52 17 .754 -
Seattle 52 18 .743 1/2
L.A. Lakers 50 19 .725 2
San Antonio 48 23 .676 5
Phoenix 46 25 .648 7