‘The Last Dance’ Redux: Steve Kerr Bails Out Michael Jordan With His Highest-Scoring Game in a Bulls Uniform in a Win Over the Nets
Coming off a one-night road trip, resulting in a two-point loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls returned to the United Center on November 8, 1997, for a matchup with the undefeated New Jersey Nets.
But unlike their battle with the Hawks, who were also undefeated, the Bulls ended the Nets’ perfect start to the 1997-98 season with a 99-86 victory. And for the first time in four games, Michael Jordan, who had to carry the vast majority of the load with Scottie Pippen out of the lineup, finally got some help.
After outscoring his four fellow starters for three straight games, Jordan was barely the leading scorer for Chicago’s starting five on this night, recording just 15 points, at the time a season-low, on 5-for-13 shooting from the floor.
Ron Harper picked up some of the slack with 14, while Randy Brown and Dennis Rodman scored seven apiece. This was the first start of the year for Rodman, who also added a dozen rebounds.
But the big star of the night was Steve Kerr, who played close to 32 minutes and made eight of 13 shots from the field, including four of six from the three-point line, for 21 points. This was Kerr’s highest output in a Bulls uniform and the third-highest-scoring game of his entire career.
He scored 24 for the Cavs against the Pacers on April 17, 1992, only eight days after dropping 23 on the Hornets. Kerr’s previous high for Chicago was a 20-point effort on January 14, 1994, in a win over the Utah Jazz, a total he’d match later on during the Bulls’ “Last Dance” season.
Sam Cassell led the way for the Nets with 19 points, seven assists, and four steals, while Kendall Gill chipped in with 17 despite shooting a woeful 3-for-12 from the floor.
Here’s a look at the NBA standings following all the action on November 8, 1997.
|New Jersey Nets||4||1|
|New York Knicks||3||2|
|Portland Trail Blazers||4||1|
|San Antonio Spurs||4||1|
|Golden State Warriors||0||5|
As quite a bit of Episode 9 of The Last Dance was dedicated to Steve Kerr, I’m surprised this game wasn’t mentioned. After all, it focused on how important of a role player he was to the Bulls as a whole, so throwing in his career-high for the franchise at least deserved a little recognition.
I suppose his game-winning shot in the ’97 NBA Finals got the point across well enough. But hey, maybe now you know something you didn’t when you clicked in here. So you’re welcome.
Up next for the “Last Dance” Bulls was an ugly loss to Kerr’s former team.
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