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Bulls reach rock bottom
Miami holds Chicago to record-low 49 points
Posted: Sunday April 11, 1999 01:19 PM
CHICAGO (AP) -- In a season full of lows and dubious records they wanted no part of, the Chicago Bulls reached new depths Saturday night.
The Miami Heat held the Bulls to the lowest point total since the introduction of the shot clock, humiliating the shell of a team that once won six championships 82-49.
"It's not fun, having this record," said Chicago center Bill Wennington.
The rebuilt Bulls were undone by a great Miami defense and their own inept shooting.
"It [the record] doesn't mean anything," insisted Miami coach Pat Riley, who suffered many frustrating losses to the Bulls during their championship runs. "Anybody who has a brain knows what is going on here in Chicago. They turned the team over. We're not looking to set any records, we're looking to win games."
The Bulls had been on the other end of the previous low-scoring game, limiting Utah to 54 points last June in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, but that was when they had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. The previous low for a regular-season game was 55, by Indiana against San Antonio on March 29, 1998.
"I don't know what Michael would say about this," Bulls guard Ron Harper said.
Jordan, for sure, would never have been part of it. He scored at least 50 points 37 times in his career.
The Bulls also set an NBA low with only 18 field goals, one fewer than the previous mark set by Indiana against New York in 1985.
Chicago nearly set another league mark for offensive futility, making just 23.4 percent of its shots (18-of-77). The worst shooting performance ever was .229 by Milwaukee against Minneapolis in 1954, the first year of the shot clock.
The Bulls did, however, set a team record for lousy shooting, lower than a 26 percent effort against Philadelphia in 1975.
But the 49 points are what everyone will remember.
"To hold a team under 50 points is a great accomplishment," Miami's Dan Majerle said.
"The record means a lot to us," Heat guard Tim Hardaway said. "Dan and I were telling some of the guys to go out there and play defense, try to set the record. If you have a chance to do it, why not do it? They were missing shots. We were playing good defense."
Hardaway scored 22 points, Alonzo Mourning had 19 and seven blocks and the Heat opened the game with a 15-0 run behind a smothering defense. The Bulls trailed 23-8 at the end of the first quarter, 45-23 at the half and 67-33 after three quarters.
Miami leads the league in shooting percentage defense, holding opponents to 40 percent, and gives up only 84.2 points per game, second best in the NBA.
But even a great defense couldn't account for all the Bulls' offensive woes against the Heat.
"We have to go and play Miami on Tuesday down there, not a game you're looking forward to," said Bulls rookie coach Tim Floyd.
Just eight days ago, Floyd and the Bulls lost to Orlando by 47 points, the worst beating in franchise history.
The Bulls, who missed their first 14 field goal attempts Saturday night, didn't score until Mark Bryant hit the second of two free throws with 4:15 left in the opening period, generating a loud and sarcastic cheer from the stunned crowd at the United Center.
Dickie Simpkins' hook in lane, with 2:57 to go in the quarter, was the Bulls' first basket.
The 23 points in the first half, tied the Bulls' team record for fewest in a half, first set in February against the Knicks.
Notes: Kornel David paced the Bulls with 13 points. ... Riley is now one win shy of tying Red Auerbach for third place with 938 career victories. ... Ron Harper returned after missing 10 games with sprained right knee but the Bulls were without Brent Barry, who was put on the injured list Friday with an ankle sprain. ... The 15 points were the most the Bulls had ever given up to start a game. ... After Bryant hit the free throw for the Bulls' first point he had to leave the game after aggravating a left shoulder stinger. He didn't go with the team to Boston for its next game and will have an MRI on Monday ... Chicago's 23 points were the fewest ever scored by a Heat opponent in a half.
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