It looks like the dog days of the NBA season haven't quite ended yet. How else to explain why so many playoff contenders played like mongrels against the mutts of the league?
Seattle barely beat Denver.Utah barely beat Vancouver.
Indiana barely beat Milwaukee.
Cleveland barely beat the Clippers.
And that wasn't all Sunday.
The Lakers needed overtime to beat Detroit, Atlanta lost at home to Minnesota and New York was simply flattened by Boston.
With only two weeks left in the regular season, only the Chicago Bulls looked like a team ready to start the postseason. Despite being without Luc Longley and Toni Kukoc, the Bulls overpowered the faltering Houston Rockets 109-94 to extend their winning streak to 12 games - the longest in the NBA this season.
"We have a lot of turmoil on this team, but when we get on the court everything is fine," Dennis Rodman said after Chicago improved the league's best record to 58-17.
Michael Jordan scored 40 points for the Bulls, reaching that plateau for the 11th time this season. Scottie Pippen added 20 points, eight assists and five blocked shots while Scott Burrell had 15 points.
Rodman had 12 rebounds and a season-high eight assists and Bill Wennington, making only his third start of the year because of a foot injury to Kukoc, added 14.
"That is the best team in the NBA," Houston's Mario Elie said. "In the fourth quarter they were stroking the ball so well. Jordan was tremendous and his concentration level was simply phenomenal."
SUPERSONICS 87, NUGGETS 83: At Denver, the Sonics had to work a lot harder than they initially expected in order to win their 57th game.
Vin Baker scored 21 points, including two crucial baskets off offensive rebounds in the final minute as Seattle kept the Nuggets at nine victories.
The Nuggets (9-66) have seven games remaining to get one victory, which would guarantee they won't equal the worst record in NBA history, Philadelphia's 9-73 mark in 1972-73.
PACERS 93, BUCKS 92: At Indianapolis, the Pacers weren't assured of the victory until Michael Curry's 20-foot jumper from the left wing hit the outside of the rim and bounced away as time expired.
Reggie Miller led a balanced scoring attack with 18 points. Derrick McKey, Chris Mullin and Antonio Davis added 16 points each as Indiana swept the four-game season series from Milwaukee for the first time ever.
"It's discouraging to play like this going into the playoffs," coach Larry Bird said.
CAVALIERS 94, CLIPPERS 93: At Cleveland, the Clippers nearly came all the way back from a seven-point deficit in the final 30 seconds, but missed four chances to foul in the final 8.1 seconds as Cleveland managed to run out the clock.
LAKERS 105, PISTONS 103, OT: At Auburn Hills, Mich., the Lakers came back from an early 18-point deficit to win their fifth straight.
TIMBERWOLVES 97, HAWKS 96: At Atlanta, Stephon Marbury scored five of his nine points in the final 1:30, including a layup with 23.4 seconds remaining that gave Minnesota the victory.
CELTICS 102, KNICKS 92: At Boston, the Celtics opened a 28-point lead just four minutes into the second quarter and led by at least 10 the rest of the way.
WIZARDS 88, MAGIC 85: At Washington, Rod Strickland had his third triple-double of the season - 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, and Chris Webber had 22 points and 12 rebounds.
76ERS 116, RAPTORS 104: At Philadelphia, Allen Iverson flirted with Philadelphia's first triple-double since 1995, finishing with 36 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals and no turnovers.
KINGS 105, MAVERICKS 99: At Sacramento, the Kings snapped a 12-game losing streak as seldom-used guard Chris Robinson scored a career-high 22 points in place of Mitch Richmond.