Michael Jordan and Glen Rice matched jumpers and also went nose-to-nose. Dell Curry, scrambling for a loose ball with Dennis Rodman, became irate and then was ejected.
After an angry and emotional night at the United Center, the Chicago Bulls were moving on to the Eastern Conference finals.The Charlotte Hornets, meanwhile, were headed home, their season over after one last forceful effort.
"We wanted a short night. It didn't prove to be that. They forced us to play a solid game, a hard game," Jordan said after the Bulls' 93-84 victory clinched their second-round series 4-1 Wednesday night.
Jordan scored 33 points and Rodman had 21 rebounds on his 37th birthday for the two-time defending champions.
Jordan scored all 11 of his fourth-quarter points after a run-in with Rice, who broke out of a series-long shooting slump with 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field.
"We felt he's been setting some illegal screens all series and I made a purpose of trying to get the referees to call it," Jordan said. "I chose to challenge the screen to see if they were going to call it and I guess he took offense to that."
Rice and Jordan went nose-to-nose with 10:09 left after they'd twice collided in front of the Bulls bench. Scottie Pippen had to restrain Jordan, Rice was charged with an offensive foul and then a double technical was called on the two stars.
"It was just a hard play," Rice said. "Michael and I were definitely trying to establish our grounds out there. A couple of times I felt the referee let him get away with some things and I just showed my disapproval."
Jordan then made two baskets and after Anthony Mason scored to Chicago's led to 80-76, Rodman and Curry went scrambling for a loose ball out of bounds.
When possession was awarded to the Bulls, Curry began screaming at the officials, picking up his second technical of the game for an automatic ejection. He left the court cursing, kicking two Bulls warmup suits that were on the floor as he passed Chicago's bench.