Outgunned Knicks Say Bulls Haven't Turned Series Around Scottie Pippen And The Chicago Defense Got Hot. New York Still Thinks It Can Roll With Those Punches.

Posted: May 31, 1993

CHICAGO — The thrill of the Chicago Bulls' resounding victory Saturday was very much alive in this city yesterday, but the New York Knicks remained undaunted.

The Bulls were convincing in their 103-83 rout of the Knicks, and they did it with Michael Jordan shooting poorly and still pouting about the publicity he got from a gambling trek to Atlantic City last week.

New York leads the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final two games to one, and it thoroughly handled the two-time defending champions at Madison Square Garden. But suddenly, with a single Bulls victory, some are questioning whether the Knicks have lost control.

No way, they say.

"I feel under control," Knicks forward Charles Oakley said. "It's one game. They threw all their punches in the first round, and they won the fight."

Actually, the Bulls won without their best punch. Jordan shot only 3 for 18

from the field.

Scottie Pippen, a player constantly dogged by accusations that he is faint of heart, hit 10 of 12 shots and led the assault with 29 points, and the Bulls' defense was stifling.

One would think Saturday's debacle would be something that the Knicks, with full knowledge that they have the home advantage, would want to forget.

"Nah," forward Charles Smith said. "I don't think we want to shake it off. We want to remember that they kicked our butts in Game 3. We'll go into Game 4 motivated."

So far, this series has been a slugfest, and motivation - any mental edge - has been coveted by both teams.

The physical aspect of the competition has become something of a psychological tool.

The Knicks, brutish and powerful, seem to specialize in the hands-on sort of persuasion. Being pummeled by 20 points didn't seem to bother them, because they knew the Bulls did it with jump shots.

Had the Bulls stuffed the ball down New York's throat, there might have been more reason for the Knicks to worry.

"Probably the biggest aspect of their game was their energy and their ability to find the open man and their shooting," said New York coach Pat Riley, adding that the Bulls hit 22 of 39 shots from the perimeter. "In New York, they were hitting a lot of the orange (rims). In here, it was nothing but net."

There's something chesty about the Knicks and their confidence in physical might.

This attitude, particularly when you consider that John Starks has been ejected twice this postseason, could be New York's downfall.

"This is very similar to our series with Detroit three years ago," Chicago guard John Paxson said. "You cannot get into mind games with this team."

The outcome of Saturday's game was a foregone conclusion by the time Starks was ejected by referee Steve Javie with a little more than nine minutes left. Starks said that Jordan, who has hit only 25 of 77 shots from the field against Starks and the Knicks, elbowed him and that he slapped the Bulls captain's arm off him.

Starks said he was nowhere close to being out of control, though he had to be lightly restrained from attacking Jordan when heated conversation followed the incident.

"In Indiana, yes," said Starks, admitting that he was wrong when he head- butted Reggie Miller in the third game of that series, "but yesterday, no. It was nothing, a slap of the hand."

Then there was the crowd factor.

Chicago Stadium is arguably the loudest arena in the NBA. The fans seem to conspire with the Bulls as they attempt to smother the opponent with pressure defense.

It won't be any quieter today in the pit the Bulls call home than it was Saturday.

"They're a team that thrives on their fans," Starks said. "They're no different from any other team. They play great at home. We know we can beat them on their home court. It's not a concern of ours."

The Knicks are concerned, however, that the referees are watching them closer because of their reputation for being bullies.

"Everybody is playing hard, aggressive defense," Smith said. "The referees have their work cut out for them because there's a lot of things going on out there on the court."

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