Obviously, this game is a loss but when you consider the circumstances, I think it's one of Jordan's most courageous and remarkable performances. In fact, I personally rate this one very high.
In this 6th game of the Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan finishes with 32pts (13-25), 13 asts, 4rbs, 3stls, 2blks.
This is against a Pistons team which swept the first round, Eastern semis and NBA finals in 1989. They were 15-2 in the playoffs, and the two losses were against Chicago.
They were inarguably one of the deepest championship teams ever. To give you an idea, 9 (yes, nine) Pistons players averaged at least 20 minutes per game in the 1989 finals against the Lakers. That has never happened ever since.
Having said that, here's what the Bulls starters other than Jordan produce in this game.
- Pippen: Out of the the game after the first minute when he takes an elbow in the head from Laimbeer.
-Grant: Silly fouls. Picks up his 3rd early in the 2nd quarter and plays very limited minutes. When he's on the court he can't finish easy layups.
-Cartwright: 0 for 5 and zero points in the first half. Finishes the game with a total of 4pts, shooting 1 for 8 (tap-in). Can't even hit layups and wide open 15 footers.
-Hodges: Only starter to have a decent game. Hits 3 threes in the first half, but only scores 2pts in the entire second half.
If Grant and Cartwright had been able to hit some wide open layups/close jumpers off Jordan passes, approaching 20 assists is not even out of question for him. I included some but couldn't fit most of them.
And what's even worse is that Bulls frontcourt can't rebound either. Pistons get 18 offensive boards in this game, and despite all the other factors that's probably the main reason they win. Also, it should be noted that Isiah has a great game, especially in the fourth. I wanted to include some of his shots but couldn't because of time limitations.
The best Bulls players in this game other than Jordan are Pippen's replacement Brad Sellers who was a 7ppg/3rpg player in 1989. And Paxson who is again a 7ppg/4apg bench player that year.
Post game notes and quotes:
Jordan experienced a microcosm of the series and the entire playoffs within his 42 minutes. With Scottie Pippen forced out of the lineup one minute into the game after getting accidentially elbowed in the head by Detroit center Bill Laimbeer, Jordan carried the Bulls all night long.
"I was confident coming into the game but little things happen that you don't count on-Scottie getting hurt, getting into foul trouble-I guess you just have to be a man and accept them." Jordan said.
Jordan ended the game with 32 points and a game-high 13 assists. Warming up tonight he told a couple of the Pistons he'd "see them Sunday," as in a Game 7 date at The Palace.
"It would've been dumb to not say that," he said. "If I didn't that would mean that I thought we were going to lose the game."
For Detroit, it was a pleasing end to a grueling series in which defense ruled and physical play was a matter of course. That, of course, is the way Detroit likes it.
Yet the Pistons found themselves playing catch up again in the first, when the Bulls streaked to a 26-14 lead behind Jordan.
In fact, coach Doug Collins felt so secure about the edge, he opted to sit Jordan for the final 2:27 of the first. The strategy was disastrous. The Pistons ripped off 10 in a row and the Bulls didn't score again, leaving the Chicago edge a slim 2 (26-24).
"When I had to substitute, we didn't score," Chicago Coach Doug Collins said. "I had to get Michael a little bit of a rest, and then we had about eight possessions without a point. Brad played starter's minutes so I had to get him some rest."
"They gave us a whale of a series," Detroit coach Daly said, "but our guys have been focused on returning to the Finals since training camp."
That focus Friday led to 15 rebounds by Dennis Rodman, 12 points, 9 assists from Joe Dumars, 11 points, 10 rebounds from Laimbeer, 11 points more from his backup James Edwards and 10 from Mark Aguirre.
"They look ready for the finals," said Horace Grant quietly. "They wear you down and wear you down until they have their way."
The Pistons had a bad shooting night by most standards but they took 18 offensive rebounds, and the Bulls could not cope with that.
When asked how the Pistons were able to contain the most creative player in the league when it mattered most, Detroit coach Chuck Daly answered, "We went to our Jordan
Those rules included throwing double- and triple- teams at him each time he caught the ball.
"I was concerned," Daly admitted. "They had proved before they could steal one. And the way Jordan was playing, there was no telling what would happen."
"I'm proud of myself and our team for the challenge we presented to the Detroit Pistons," said Jordan, who played the fourth quarter after re-aggravating his oft-injured groin early in the quarter. "I wanted to go further. The fans have been very hungry for an Eastern Conference title. My five years here I've spent every year trying to get us further."