‘The Last Dance’ Redux: Michael Jordan Got Help, and the Bulls Still Lost to the Surprising Suns
After winning two straight games in the friendly confines of the United Center, the “Last Dance” Chicago Bulls kicked off a seven-game road trip with a matchup against the surprising Phoenix Suns on November 20, 1997.
The Suns started their first full season with Danny Ainge as the head coach with six wins in their first eight games and made it seven in nine with an 89-85 victory over the two-time defending champs, dropping the Bulls to 6-5.
The loss was a bit surprising, seeing as Michael Jordan, who had a game-high 30 points, got plenty of help from his fellow Chicago starters, which hadn’t often been the case to start the year. Ron Harper scored 14, Luc Longley and Toni Kukoc each kicked in a dozen, and Dennis Rodman grabbed 14 rebounds.
But the Bulls got just 13 points off the bench while the Suns got 36, 16 of which came from Kevin Johnson, who’d taken on more of a reserve role. A young Steve Nash scored four points in just under 10 minutes.
Danny Manning, who’d later win NBA Sixth Man of the Year, started this game and led the way for the Suns with 23 points and eight rebounds. Jason Kidd scored just eight points but dished out 11 assists, grabbed six rebounds, and recorded four steals.
|Hot Rod Williams||4||3||2||0||0|
Here’s a look at the NBA standings following all the action on November 20, 1997.
|New Jersey Nets||6||3|
|New York Knicks||7||4|
|Portland Trail Blazers||8||3|
|San Antonio Spurs||7||3|
|Golden State Warriors||1||9|
Up next for the “Last Dance” Bulls was a date with the lowly Los Angeles Clippers, a game that turned out to be much more challenging than it should have been.
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