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Bulls Run Past Spurs 96-86

The Chicago Bulls' Texas two-step ended on a winning note at the expense of the San Antonio Spurs.

Two nights after a surprising loss to the lowly Dallas Mavericks, Michael Jordan scored 30 points -- seven in the last four minutes -- as the Bulls beat the Spurs 96-86 on Saturday.

"You know they're going to come in loaded for bear, and they were," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. "We went after him every which way we could."

Jordan had plenty of help. Toni Kukoc added 21 points and Scottie Pippen and Ron Harper had 13 apiece.

"It was certainly on our mind," Jordan, who passed Tom Boerwinkle's team career rebounding record of 5,745, said of the loss to the Mavs. "We had to play better.

"Our only blemish as of late came in Dallas, and that game served as a wakeup call for us on the defensive end."

That's where Dennis Rodman came in, grabbing 16 rebounds against a Spurs front line of 7-footers David Robinson, Tim Duncan and 6-8 Chuck Person.

"I thought it was a real active game for both teams," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "It was a good showing by us."

The Bulls entered the final period leading 68-59 and held the Spurs in check. Jordan hit one of two free throws with 4:05 left, then followed up with six more points down the stretch to keep the Bulls ahead.

"My objective is to do what I have always done," Jordan said, ``and that's to win."

Robinson led the Spurs with 35 points. Jaren Jackson scored 15 off the bench, and Duncan had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Though Popovich was upbeat about the Spurs' effort, Robinson knows the Spurs passed another opportunity to beat a top team.

"It's important psychologically to beat these types of teams," Robinson said. "This time of year, there's no excuses. You have to start winning these games."

Chicago, leading 40-39 AT halftime, started the third period with a 13-2 run keyed by Jordan and Kukoc, and led 53-41 with 8:42 left in the quarter.

A dunk by Robinson began a Spurs comeback, and San Antonio pulled within 59-57 on a 3-pointer by Jackson with 3:33 remaining in the third. But the Buls responded with seven consecutive points and led 68-59 after three quarters.

Despite just 35-percent shooting, Chicago led 27-21 after the first period. The Spurs gained ground in the second quarter, thanks mostly to Robinson and Jackson, who had nine and seven points, respectively, in the period. The Bulls led 40-39 at halftime.

Rodman's 16 rebounds moved him ahead of Dolph Schayes (11,257) for 17th place on the NBA's all-time rebounding list. Rodman entered game with 11,243 rebounds.

Notes: Chicago center Luc Longley missed his sixth straight game with a left knee sprain. ... Avery Johnson , who missed the previous two games with a right hip injury, started for the Spurs. He had two points and four assists in 29 minutes ... A sellout crowd of 37,492 attended the game. The Alamodome has the largest capacity in the NBA. ... The Bulls are 2-0 against the Spurs this season, having won in double overtime against San Antonio in November.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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