Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Remembering the 1995-96 Bulls

As it becomes more evident that yet another NBA season is going to go by where the Chicago Bulls record of 72 regular season wins won't be matched, I figured we'd take a moment to look back at that team and see who actually beat them.

Loss #1 - Game 6 - Orlando Magic 94 Chicago Bulls 88
Photo Credit:
Even without the injured Shaquille O'Neal, the defending Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic were a force to be reckoned with. While starting center Jon Koncak (career average of 4.5 points per game) didn't make anyone forget about Shaq, Penny Hardaway scored 36 points and the Magic overcame 24 turnovers to defeat the Bulls in Orlando 94-88. The Bulls shot just 39% from the field and missed nine of nineteen free throws in a losing effort. Despite the absence of Dennis Rodman, the Bulls won the rebounding battle 44-38 and grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, but ultimately their poor shooting doomed them, particularly in the third quarter when they scored just 14 points. Michael Jordan led the Bulls with 23 points, Scottie Pippen added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Toni Kukoc scored 16 off the bench. The Bulls would face the Magic three more times during the regular season and again in the Eastern Conference Finals winning all seven match-ups.

Loss #2 - Game 12 - Seattle Supersonics 97 Chicago Bulls 92
Photo Credit:
In a Preview of the 1996 NBA Finals, the Bulls took a 64-51 lead into the intermission, but mustered just 28 points in the second half, falling on the road to the Supersonics 97-92. Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp combined to score 51 points on 20 of 29 shooting and Seattle as a team shot 56% from the floor. Michael Jordan led the Bulls with 22 points but hit just 6 of 19 field goals and Scottie Pippen missed 9 of his 11 free throws. Starting center Luc Longley was one of the few bright spots for Chicago on offense as he had a season high 21 points in 28 minutes. Perhaps the toughest match-up for the '95-'96 Bulls, the Sonics would also take two games from Chicago in the NBA Finals before ultimately falling in six.

Loss #3 - Game 26 - Indiana Pacers 103 Chicago Bulls 97
Photo Credit:
Indiana snapped Chicago's 13 game winning streak thanks to a big first half and just enough offense down the stretch. Indiana took a 59-40 halftime lead and held on late for a 103-97 win. Rik Smits led the Pacers with 26 points and Reggie Miller hit four of Indiana's ten three-pointers. Michael Jordan Finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, but hit just 11 of 28 field goals and Scottie Pippen added 26 points and 10 boards in a losing effort. The Pacers finished the year with the third best record in the Eastern Conference, but were dispatched by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.

Loss #4 - Game 45 - Denver Nuggets 105 Chicago Bulls 99
Photo Credit:
The lowly Nuggets were a surprise to end Chicago's 18 game winning streak as they jumped out to a 68-43 halftime lead, and despite seeing Chicago cut the deficit to two points after three quarters, hung on for a 105-99 win. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf led Denver with 32 points, while Dikembe Mutombo dominated by grabbing 17 rebounds and blocking 5 shots. Michael Jordan countered with 39 points, and Bill Wennington scored a season high 18 points on a season high 21 shots, but it wasn't enough to dig the Bulls out of the early hole. Denver entered the game 18-26 and finished the season 35-47 and missed the playoffs.

Loss #5 - Game 46 - Phoenix Suns 106 Chicago Bulls 96
Photo Credit:
This was the only time during the '95-'96 season until Games 4 and 5 of the NBA Finals that Chicago lost consecutive games. Led by Charles Barkley's 35 points, the Suns overcame a 13 point deficit after one quarter outscoring Chicago 86-63 the rest of the way. Phoenix, who entered the game four games under .500, won the rebounding battle 42-34 thanks to 16 rebounds by Barkley. Michael Jordan had 28 points, but missed 7 free throws. The Suns would sneak into the playoffs as the West's 7 seed but were knocked out by the Spurs 3 games to 1.

Loss #6 - Game 54 - Miami Heat 113 Chicago Bulls 104
Photo Credit:
Only the Boston Celtics scored more points against the Bulls during the '95-'96 campaign than Miami's 113. Just 24-29 at the opening tip, the Heat jumped out to a 91-68 lead through three quarters as Rex 'the Mad Bomber' Chapman shot the lights out connecting on nine of ten three-pointers. As a team, Miami hit 15 of 23 threes and they clamped down on defense forcing Scottie Pippen to miss 14 of his 18 field goals. Miami managed to clinch the eighth seed in the East drawing a first round matchup with the Bulls, but the Bulls swept the Heat winning by margins of 17, 31 and 21 points.

Loss #7 - Game 61 - New York Knicks 104 Chicago Bulls 72
Photo Credit:
Patrick Ewing's Knicks handed Chicago by far their worst loss of the season holding Chicago to just 30 points after halftime. Ewing led six Knicks in double figures with 26 as New York shot 54% from the field and turned the ball over only eleven times. Chicago got 32 points from Michael Jordan, but the rest of the Bulls roster made just 16 of 50 shots. The Knicks would catch the Bulls again in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but managed to take just one game, Game 3, from them and needed overtime to do it.

Loss #8 - Game 68 - Toronto Raptors 109 Chicago Bulls 108
Photo Credit:
The Raptors only won 21 games during the '95-'96 season, but one of them was against the Chicago Bulls. Eventual Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire scored 30 points, Tracy Murray (not Tracy McGrady, he came later) added 23 and six of the seven Raptors who saw the court scored in double figures paving the way for the upset. Oliver 'Pig' Miller's free throw with 21 seconds to play was the difference as Steve Kerr's desperation three-pointer at the buzzer was no good. Michael Jordan scored 36 points and Toni Kukoc, starting in place of Dennis Rodman, had 23 in a losing effort. The seven Raptors who pulled off the stunning upset? Murray, Stoudamire, Miller, Carlos Rogers, Alvin Robertson, Doug Christie, and the forever famous Zan Tabak.

Loss #9 - Game 75 - Charlotte Hornets 98 Chicago Bulls 97
Photo Credit:
Dell Curry, father of Golden State's Stephen Curry, hit two free throws with 19 seconds left to snap Chicago's 44 game home winning streak. With a starting lineup of Glen Rice, Robert Parish, Kenny Anderson, Matt Geiger (Mr. Clean!) and Larry Johnson (Space Jam!), the Hornets got balanced scoring led by Anderson's 20 points and survived a 40-point night from Michael Jordan. Chicago grabbed 23 offensive rebounds and won the rebounding battle 50-32, but despite only 8 turnovers, came up short. Charlotte missed the playoffs by one game.

Loss #10 - Game 81 - Indiana Pacers 100 Chicago Bulls 99
Photo Credit:
Michael Jordan was called for a controversial foul with 0.5 seconds remaining allowing Eddie Johnson to hit the game winning free throw and ruining Chicago's chance to finish the season 40-1 at home. Playing without Reggie Miller, the Pacers had six players score in double figures led by Rik Smits' 17 points. Chicago got 24 points from Michael Jordan and 20 more from Toni Kukoc, but the Bulls couldn't capitalize on 22 offensive rebounds and missed a chance to end the season with single digit losses. The Pacers were the only team to defeat the Bulls twice during the regular season.

No comments:

Post a Comment