‘The Last Dance’ Redux: Michael Jordan Battles Several Career Enemies, Nearly Sets a Career-High in Rebounds as the Bulls Beat the Magic
Two nights after surviving a double-overtime thriller against the San Antonio Spurs, the Chicago Bulls finished off a perfect three-game homestand with a 94-81 win over the Orlando Magic on November 5, 1997.
This was a true team effort for the two-time defending champs, albeit a strange one. With the exception of Dennis Rodman, who went scoreless in 24 minutes off the bench and grabbed a season-low seven rebounds, every member of the Chicago roster who entered the game scored at least five points.
Michael Jordan led the way with 29 points on 11-for-25 shooting and was the only starter in double figures. The other four — Ron Harper, Luc Longley, Jason Caffey, and Randy Brown — came up two short of MJ’s total combined, scoring 27 between the four of them. Jordan also grabbed 17 rebounds, the most he’d record all season and the second-highest total of his entire career.
Luckily, Toni Kukoc provided a spark off the bench, scoring 14 points in 22 minutes while shooting 75% from the field. The Bulls, as a whole, shot the ball well, making 48.7% of their attempts from the floor.
The Magic, however, did not, shooting a dismal 34.2%. But despite their struggles, they never allowed the Bulls to truly pull away. Breaking things down by quarter, Orlando was never outscored by more than six in a single frame. And that was in the first as Chicago held a 23-17 lead after 12 minutes.
The Bulls were just a touch better in each quarter, outscoring the Magic by four in the second, two in the third, and one in the fourth to get the 13-point victory.
Rony Seikaly had a monster outing for Orlando with 34 points, 16 coming from the foul line, while Penny Hardaway chipped in with 20. The Magic made just 25 field goals throughout the night and had only nine assists.
Here’s a look at the NBA standings following all the action on November 5, 1997.
|New Jersey Nets||3||0|
|New York Knicks||2||1|
|San Antonio Spurs||3||1|
|Portland Trail Blazers||2||1|
|Golden State Warriors||0||4|
Upon the rewatch of this game, you realize how many people who played significant parts in Michael Jordan’s career story played for the Magic at this point in time, many of whom got plenty of focus in The Last Dance documentary.
There’s Horace Grant, who, of course, was a significant piece to the Bulls’ first three-peat before he took his talents to Florida and helped Orlando defeat Chicago in the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Then there’s Magic mainstay Nick Anderson, who famously stole the ball from Jordan during Game 1 of that ’95 playoff series and was essentially responsible for MJ ditching the No. 45 during his comeback season to return to his familiar No. 23.
You may have noticed Mark Price in that box score as well, against whom Jordan had many battles during those Bulls-Cavaliers matchups over the years. Former Cav Gerald Wilkins, who was once dubbed “The Jordan Stopper,” was on Orlando’s roster at this time as well.
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