1990/1991 Chicago Bulls Dynasty: Game Three

The Chicago Bulls have started the 1990/1991 season losing their first two games of the season. They were outplayed by the Sixers in their first game for three and half quarters and nearly made a remarkable comeback. The next night the Bulls lost to the Bullets by one point largely due Bernard King dominating the game and hitting nearly all of his shots in the fourth quarter. The Bulls had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds, but came up short in the end.

Michael Jordan hasn’t had a lot of help through the first two games. Scottie Pippen has been struggling on the offensive side and Horace Grant tends to have productive first quarters, only to have his touches diminished throughout the rest of the game. Bill Cartwright is a below average big man and it’s an obvious weak spot at the time. Considering this is an era where big men are a big focus and the perimeter game is not as highlighted, I’m interested to see how that’s addressed moving forward.

The Boston Celtics are the opponents in the third game of the season. By this point, the Celtics dynasty is on its last legs, but they are still a viable contender and a threat. Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Brian Shaw and Reggie Lewis provide plenty of firepower on both ends of the court. The Celtics enter the game having won their first two games of the year against the Cavaliers and Knicks. Reggie Lewis has had a strong start to the season and Brian Shaw has done a very good job leading the team as the point guard. Shaw had left the team after his rookie year to play for the Italian team, II Messaggero Roma.

Shaw had signed a five year deal with the Celtics in January 1990, but then wanted to return to the Italian team. The issue went to court and the Celtics won. As a result, Shaw was banned from playing with another team that wasn’t the Celtics. It’s an interesting story to keep an eye on if it impacts Shaw’s play. Shaw has done very well in the first two games distributing the ball and the Celtics offense is firing well on all cylinders.

The date is November 6th, 1990 and it’s Chicago’s second home game. The game aired on TNT.

Cartwright misses the first shot on an attempted hook shot which was defended well by Parish. Celtics quickly rundown the court and Pickney hits a midrange jumper. Horace Grant was hit in the face causing an early timeout. Grant had to be helped to the bench and appeared to be out of it. After a replay, it’s shown that Cartwright nailed Grant with an accidental elbow. Stacey King replaces Grant.

Jordan hits a short range basket to tie the game, but Bird quickly makes a layup. Cartwright is going right after Parish to make his first basket of the game. Pickney has no problem in the paint to make a layup. Shaw tries to get a fast pace offense going on a Paxson missed shot, but Pippen displays good defensive awareness to poke the ball out of bounds. Bird misses a turnaround jumper, but the Bulls turn the ball over.

Lewis is wide open to drain a midrange jumper and the Bulls call their second timeout less than three minutes into the game with the Celtics up by four. The Bulls continued to drive right at Parish as King went right into the paint and managed to get to the line making both shots. Bird makes a right handed hook shot. King comes back with a jump shot.

Shaw makes a nice pass to Bird in the paint, but Bird can’t finish the play. The referees called a foul, but it was clear that Bird just missed the shot. Bird makes both free throws. Cartwright misses a wide open shot and misses another shot right under the basket. Lewis responds with a made jumper. Pippen turns the ball over on the next Bulls possession. Jordan strips Shaw of the ball and makes a long pass to Paxson for a made layup and foul. Paxson makes the three point play.

Parish makes a quick dunk as the Celtics are playing much faster than the Bulls. Pippen makes a bank shot to keep the deficit at three, 16-13. Celtics miss a couple of shots and Jordan makes a jumper. Shaw makes Paxson look foolish with a nice jump step bank shot. Parish embarrasses Cartwright with a bank shot after a pump fake.

Brian Shaw making it look easy against Paxson

Here’s your “Cartwright looks foolish” moment.

Celtics get a four on one after a bad Paxson shot and Jordan was left in no mans land when Pickney finishes with a layup. Pippen makes two free throws. Jordan makes a nice layup with an up and under. The Celtics miss on two straight possessions. Pippen drives to the paint and goes to the line again and makes both shots. Kevin McHale and BJ Armstrong enter the game for the first time.

Lewis makes a contested shot over Jordan. Bulls miss a couple of open shots by Jordan and Armstrong. The tempo picks up as Pippen makes a strong move in the paint to finish a layup and has eight points in the first quarter thus far. Pippen continues with another jump shot to have ten points already. It’s a pleasant sight to see Pippen showcase his offense. Hopefully that means the first two games were just a mirage. It’s clearly not a mirage for Cartwright.

Grant has returned to the game after a Celtics timeout. Grant gets an offensive rebound and is rejected by the rim. Armstrong makes a beautiful pass to Grant for a fast break dunk. Cartwright and Pippen dive to the court to save the ball from going out of bounds to maintain possession. Dee Brown has come off the bench for the Celtics.

BJ making a great pass for a Horace finish.

It’s noted that the Celtics have not attempted a three point shot thus far in the season. Jordan gets fouled on a drive to the basket. Reggie Lewis has two fouls and is benched. Jordan made one foul shot. Will Perdue has entered the game. Kevin Gamble replaces Lewis. Celtics nearly get a shot clock violation. Pippen makes another basket and has twelve points in the quarter.

Pippen gets another score with a fast break layup after a good outlet pass by Grant. Bulls prevent the Celtics from getting a shot off to close the quarter. The Bulls lead after the first quarter 32-24.

A fantastic start for the Bulls. Pippen has woken up offensively and made it a mission to drive to the basket and not apologize for it. Cartwright continues to be the most frustrating Bulls player. Not only is he a liability on the court, but he decked Horace and that’s just not cool with me. BJ Armstrong led the Bulls on the comeback after being down by seven and his energy drastically improved the offensive flow. I think it’s crucial that Armstrong be on the court whenever Shaw is the leading point for the Celtics.

Perdue blocks Gamble in the paint and Armstrong makes a jumper amid contact. Armstrong finishes the three point play making the free throw. Gamble drives to the basket and is fouled by Pippen as Perdue did well blocking Gamble. Gamble makes one of two at the line. Hopson gets a nice pass from Jordan, but the ball rims out. Hopson is fouled on another fast break attempt and misses both free throws. However, Grant gets the offensive rebound and Jordan finishes a layup.

Bird misses another turnaround jumper with Grant guarding. Shaw gets a steal, but Bird throws the ball away only for the Bulls to quickly turn the ball over. McHale makes a great pass to Brown cutting to the basket for a contested layup. Celtics trail by ten.

Brown is playing at a high speed, but is also reckless with the ball turning the ball over after a poor pass across the court. Hodges misses a three and Brown falls down after playing too fast. Jordan makes the Celtics pay on the turnover with a highlight reel dunk. Celtics call a timeout as they trail by eleven, 39-28.

Brown has been benched likely due to his reckless and out of control play. Gamble drains a jump shot after McHale got out of a double team. Cartwright gets called for an offensive foul negating the rare made shot. McHale makes a jump hook and is fouled by Grant. McHale makes the free throw as King replaces Grant. Cartwright misses another jump hook and Jordan can’t finish a layup. Lewis cuts into the lead with a made layup. Pippen continues to have a hot hand with a made midrange jumper.

Hodges makes a wide open jumper to make the lead six points. Jordan strips the ball free and Hodges runs the court only to miss a poor jump shot. Paxson returns to the game to replace Hodges. Lewis steals the ball from Hopson and makes a layup despite being fouled. Grant returns to the game as does Bird. King tries for a left handed hook shot, but is fouled by McHale. King makes both free throws. McHale easily makes a shot over King by backing him down in the paint.

King is fouled again by McHale on a close range shot causing McHale to sit with three fouls. King misses both free throws. Grant steals the ball and throws the ball to someone in the front row thinking that a teammate would react properly. Bulls are only up by one after Shaw makes one free throw.

Jordan misses a driving layup, but King finishes the miss with a put back. Parish picks up his third foul on an offensive foul call. Jordan misses a shot, but takes the ball away from Bird and finishes with a dunk. Perdue shockingly makes a jump shot while being fouled by Joe Kleine. Perdue fails to make the free throw, however. Shaw makes a mid range shot to cut the deficit to four.

Bird makes a move to the middle of court and casually drains a jumper. Jordan throws the ball away and Shaw is called for a charge on the opposite end of the court. King is held by Pinckney to prevent a shot. The Celtics are running into some serious foul issues. The Bulls are failing to take advantage as King misses two more free throws. Bird ties the game with a jumper.

King is fouled making a move to the basket and makes the shot attempt. King misses another free throw. Perdue nearly steals the ball on a long pass attempt, but the referees call the foul on Perdue, which was questionable. The Bulls lead by two at halftime, 53-51.

Pippen was non-existent in the second quarter due to foul trouble and it was very evident that he’s the best player offensively for the Bulls for the game. Dee Brown is not reliable with the style he plays. He’s playing way too fast while Shaw controls the tempo and makes better decisions with the ball. Shaw is playing very well and seems to always find the open man. I’m not sure why the Bulls are focusing this offensive attack towards their big men when it’s their one major weakness. That might have been due to Pippen’s absence. Bulls have to be more effective in taking advantage of the Celtics blunders as they are leaving a lot of points at the free throw line.

Thus far, this game has not been a classic Bird vs. Jordan type of showdown. It’s been a battle of role players. Pippen had sixteen points in the first half with most of those coming in the first quarter. Lewis has eleven at half and Jordan has thirteen.

Bird starts the second half drilling jumper to tie the game. Pippen continues his hot streak hitting a jumper. The Celtics have turned the ball over fifteen times. Pippen draws a foul on Pinckney giving the big man five fouls in twelve minutes. Pippen misses a free throw marking it seven misses in a row for the team. Pippen ends that streak by hitting the second free throw. Bird drives into the paint and finishes a layup.

Cartwright makes a hook shot over Parish. Gamble drills a jump shot to keep the deficit at one. Jordan makes a jumper from fifteen feet. Shaw tries for some quick offense and throws the ball out of bounds. Paxson makes a wide open mid range shot as Shaw couldn’t get through a screen. Shaw with another turnover as Pippen gets the steal. Jordan can’t make a fadeaway jumper. Bird makes them pay by hitting a mid range shot and that’s five in a row for Bird.

A rare good shot by Cartwright.

The Celtics are having a difficult time with transition offense with Shaw and Lewis struggling. Grant dishes the ball to Jordan in the paint for an easy close range shot. Shaw makes an almost identical shot that Jordan just made. Paxson drills a jumper to give the Bulls a five point lead. Pippen misses a layup at an awkward position. Shaw cuts the lead to three with a layup.

Cartwright must have had some good food at halftime as he drained another shot over Parish and the Bulls lead by five, 68-63. The Celtics haven’t missed a shot in the third quarter, but they have nineteen turnovers in the game causing them to be on the losing end at the moment. Bird grabs his tenth rebound on a Perdue miss and has a double-double. Bird makes another long range shot and has hit six in a row. Jordan responds with a contested jump shot. McHale has a tough time with Perdue, but gets an offensive rebound to score. Grant comes back down the court with a jump shot and only has four points. Bulls lead 72-69.

Paxson runs the court and drains a jump shot to bring the lead to five. Jordan gets a nice pass from Grant and finishes a contested layup to give the Bulls a seven point lead as the Celtics call for a timeout to regroup. McHale tries to score on Perdue a second time, but Perdue stands tall. Jordan misses a three point attempt. Bird tries a behind the back pass and goes nowhere near the target.

Jordan makes a couple of foul shots. Perdue blocks Shaw, but Bird gets the loose ball to hit a long range jumper. Paxson responds with a jump shot of his own. McHale makes a bank shot over Perdue. Jordan spins out of trouble in the paint and somehow finds Grant for a layup. That was spectacular. Pippen steals an inbounds pass from Bird and gives the ball to Jordan to finish with his trademark one hand dunk. The Bulls lead by eleven, 84-73 as the Celtics need a timeout.

Bird manages to escape Pippen and makes a long range shot. Bird has made eight straight shots. Paxson makes a long range jumper, as well. Shaw misses a long range shot. Pippen drives to the paint and misses a layup, but gets his rebound to put the ball through the basket. The Bulls have their biggest lead of the game at thirteen points. Jordan goes to the bench with less than a minute left in the quarter.

Pippen gets a rebound off a missed free throw but didn’t take advantage of numbers. Celtics get a steal and Pippen is called for a blocking foul trying to prevent a fast break. Pippen goes to the bench with four fouls. Hopson makes a mid range shot following an assist from Armstrong. Bulls try for a full court pass, but Dee Brown is able to intercept it. The Bulls lead after three by eleven, 90-79.

Bird has had his shot going for him in the second half, but the Celtics have been awful with ball handling with all the turnovers thus far in the game. McHale has done well coming off the bench and if he were to continue at this rate is a sixth man contender. Pippen is having a breakout game for the season and looking like a helpful star for Jordan. Paxson is making some key shots and showing range with his shot. Cartwright outplayed Parish in the third quarter which just completely baffles me. It’s noticeable how little Brown played in the third quarter since his play in the first half was cringe worthy awful.

Grant misses a jumper to start the fourth quarter. Neither Jordan or Pippen are on the court. Cartwright barely hits rim on a jump shot leading to McHale making a fast break layup following an assist from Shaw. Hopson makes a long range jumper. Shaw responds with a jumper of his own. Jordan has returned to the court as the Celtics are trying a trap defense. Cartwright gets a loose ball following a poor shot by King and makes a close range shot. Gamble drives to the paint and easily makes a layup. Jordan misses a mid range shot. Parish gets clobbered in the paint after getting a pass from McHale. Parish makes both free throws.

Jordan misses a mid range shot, but Cartwright grabs the glass and finishes a put back. The Bulls lead by only six with nine minutes left in the game. Brown is in the game and brings the ball up slower than earlier in the game. McHale makes a hook shot despite being fouled by King. McHale finishes the three point play and the lead is only three. Hodges has replaced Armstrong.

Celtics get a jump ball between Cartwright and Parish leading to Gamble making a shot despite another foul and the game could be tied following a free throw attempt. Jordan has four fouls. Gamble makes the free throw and the game is tied at 96. Pippen has returned to the game and misses a shot. Grant and Cartwright are doubling McHale, who has had success in the paint. Brown misses a baseline shot.

Jordan leads a fast break and finishes a dunk with nobody in sight. Gamble air balls a wide open shot. Jordan makes a bank shot to bring the lead to four, 100-96. Shaw responds with a basket. Bird has been on the bench this entire quarter. Shaw makes a great move to beat Jordan on a layup after faking a pass. Parish blocks Pippen’s shot in the paint. McHale gets fouled on a hook attempt by Grant. McHale makes two free throws to take the lead by two, 102-100.

Jordan finishing with a dunk

Shaw with a fake and a finish against Jordan

Parish does a great job to stop Pippen’s offense in the paint. Paxson misses a shot and the Celtics get a fast break with Parish leading the charge, but misses a dunk! Paxson gives the ball to Cartwright who hilariously air balls a baseline shot and the crowd audibly boos. Gamble hits the side of the backboard, but gets the rebound and makes the basket on a second attempt.

There’s the Cartwright I know.

Jordan is fouled following a spin move in the paint and makes both free throws. Shaw makes a fantastic pass to Brown running the baseline to give the Celtics a four point lead, 106-102. Jordan misses a mid range shot over Parish. McHale misses both free throws. Parish blocks Jordan on a baseline layup attempt with only three minutes left in the game. Brown misses a wide open shot. Grant makes a tough shot over both Parish and McHale.

Cartwright lunges his body onto Brown and is somehow not called for a foul. Bird returns to the game for the first time in the fourth quarter. Parish is called for an offensive foul preventing the Celtics from taking advantage. Pippen drained a mid range shot to tie the game at 106-106. Bird drains a long range jumper and has made nine straight shots. McHale blocks Pippen in the paint, but Brown can’t save the ball from going out of bounds.

Jordan hits a pull up jumper to tie the game at 108. Reggie Lewis has not played the fourth quarter at all. There are two straight jump balls. The Bulls win the tip with Grant having the advantage over Brown. Jordan misses a shot over Shaw. The Celtics have the last shot. Pippen nearly steals the ball from Bird with six seconds left, but the ball goes out of bounds.

Parish misses a mid range shot over Cartwright, but Shaw is under the basket to get the offensive rebound and makes the basket at the buzzer to win the game 110-108. Unreal.

Right place at the right time.

That’s a tough loss to take. Bird was on fire and drilled anything that was needed of him in the second half. Brian Shaw and Kevin McHale played great games alongside Shaw and their firepower was enough to overcome Jordan and Pippen. That’s what this game was all about. I think the Bulls waited too long to put Paxson back in the game as he was making big shots and matching shot for shot with the Celtics. Armstrong plays better when the Bulls are ahead and can keep that momentum. When the game is getting close or the Bulls are down it seems that Paxson is a stronger option. Horace Grant never got going on the offensive side, but even if he had a strong first quarter they never continued to feed him the ball anyway.

Bill Cartwright needs to be benched. Just get it over with. Trade him. Fire him. Send him the wrong directions to the arena. He has got to go.

It’s a shocking loss since Bird didn’t play much of the fourth quarter and Reggie Lewis didn’t stop foot on the court for the entire fourth quarter. Jordan hasn’t been showing up in the fourth quarter thus far in the season, which is rather disappointing. Sure he’s not going to make every game winning shot, but he’s missing open shots that you’d expect him to make.

A positive to look at is that the Bulls haven’t been blown out in their three losses. The Celtics are an Eastern Conference contender and the young guys like Brown, Shaw and Lewis have given them a much needed spark to pair with veteran players. After seeing this performance by the Celtics, they are a scary looking team and probably a better team than the Bulls.

The next game to cover will be the Bulls fourth game of the season taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minnesota. Hopefully the Bulls can put together a complete game and get off the snide.

Notable Performances

G: Brian Shaw: 20PTS, 8AST, 8RBS
F: Larry Bird: 24PTS, 11RBS
F: Kevin McHale: 19PTS, 7RBS, 3AST, 2BLKS

G: Michael Jordan: 33PTS, 8RBS,12AST, 3STL
F: Scottie Pippen: 23PTS, 5RBS, 4AST, 3STL

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