The commemoration of 1995-96 Chicago Bulls continues with a recap of the win over the Charlotte Hornets on November 3, 1995.
The Chicago Bulls opened the 1995-96 season with a 101-95 win over the Charlotte Hornets in the United Center. At times the Bulls looked bored against the short handed Hornets who, earlier that day, had traded franchise center Alonzo Mourning along with Pete Meyers and LeRon Ellis to the Miami Heat for Mat Gieger, Glenn Rice, Khalid Reeves, and the number 1 pick in the upcoming draft, none of which were available at game time. Mugsy Bogues was also injured which reduced the Hornets to only nine players. The Bulls came into this one a player down, with starting center Luc Longley serving a one game suspension for his fight with Chris Webber in the preseason.
Michael Jordan started hot, but both Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman seemed a step slow. Larry Johnson got off to a quick start, scoring 7 points in the first quarter and Charlotte beat the Bulls on the boards 12-7, which included 4 offensive rebounds. Michael Jordan was 6 for 10 from the field and had 15 of Chicago’s 26 points (including 7 of first 11 points). Despite lackluster play and failing to score in the last 3 minutes of the period, the Bulls, with the help of Charlotte turnovers and bad free throw shooting, found themselves only down 27-26 after the 1st period.
Jordan was on the bench to start the 2nd quarter and Chicago’s scoring drought continued. Scottie Pippen left the floor early in the period and did not return due to what was reported as a groin/abdominable pull. Charlotte, at one time, outscored the Bulls 25-7 to build a 46-33 lead, but the Bulls made up some of the ground to go into halftime down 48-40. In the 1st half Charlotte was led by Larry Johnson with 12 points, along with George Zideck and Larry Sutton who added 7 points each. Robert Parish, who replaced Alonzo Mourning in the lineup, added 3 blocks and great defense. The Hornets had outplayed the Bulls, but 10 turnovers and poor foul shooting helped the Bulls stay within reach. However, despite lackluster team play, after 24 minutes Micheal Jordan appeared to have shaken off all of the rust from the previous season.
In the first half he torched the Hornets from the outside…
and got to the basket with ease…
After the 1st quarter the league was put on notice: MJ was back.
Michael Jordan, better defense, and good play from the bench resulted in a monstrous 40 point 3rd period that turned the game around for Chicago. The Bulls gradually chipped away at the Hornets’ lead as Charlotte shot only 31 percent from the field and continued to turn the ball over. The Bulls exploded in the quarter’s last 2:40. Overall Chicago outscored Charlotte 16-5 over that stretch and 9-2 in the final minute. Jordan’s 19 in the quarter outscored the entire Hornets team (18) to put the Bulls up 80-66 going into the final period.
It wasn’t all Michael Jordan. The 3rd quarter ended with Jud Buechler and some friendly clock management in the United Center…
In the 4th period the Bulls’ lead grew to 18 points, their largest of the game. The Hornets got as close as 12 points late, but they could not mount a significant run as the Bulls went on to win 101-95. In all, the Bulls outscored Charlotte in the second half 65-43, but with the exception of the 3rd quarter and 19 Charlotte turnovers, the game was pretty evenly played. It will not go down as the prettiest opening night in Bulls history, but it was a win, and Michael Jordan was well on his way to proving his doubters wrong.
Michael Jordan: 42 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists
Dennis Rodman: 2 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist
Toni Kukoc: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists
Jud Beuchler: 13 points and 1 assist
Larry Johnson: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
Kendall Gill: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
George Zidek: 13 points, 5 rebounds
Robert Parish: 6 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks
Stats obtained from Basketball Reference
Some other notable things about this game
The game featured Charlotte’s George Zidek, the NBA’s first ever player from Czechoslovakia.
In the 3rd quarter Michael Jordan moved up to 13th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
The NBA unveiled their new website http://www.nba.com that evening.
The game was called by two substitute referees while the NBA’s real refs were picketing outside the United Center.
It was Michael Jordan’s third highest opening night point total of his career, behind his 50 points in 1986 and 54 in 1989.
Follow @jlw771 and Brandon Pence @thebullscharge and check out The Bulls Zone for our season-long commemoration of the 1995-96 Bulls.