Bulls vs. Bullets: Jordan 47pts (LaBradford Smith Game)

By Viral Hoops Staff

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March 19, 1993.

Jordan was having a very bad shooting night against the Bullets. Washington had taken a 90-89 lead 5 minutes to play in the game when Jordan scored the next 11 Bulls points in this final stretch as they managed to win the game 104- 99. But despite the win, Jordan was very unhappy with his own performance, mainly because LaBradford Smith, who was shooting 58 percent (42 for 72) in his last five games, scored 37 points.

The teams were scheduled to play again just 24 hours later, this time in Washington. In the post game interviews Jordan said, “That was a very embarrassing situation for me,.
Evidently I didn’t respect the guy and he’s certainly capable of putting up some numbers, and he did. Offensively, it wasn’t going for me and I let that effect my defensive effort and that’s something I will improve on {Saturday}. I look forward to the challenge”.

According to some journalists close to the team, he also promised to score 37 points, LaBradford’s total, in the first half of the next game.

And, he keeps his promise. Almost. He starts the game with amazing intensity and hits all of his first 8 shots from the field. When he sits down on the bench 3:15 to go in the first quarter, he already has 19 pts, 4rbs, 2 stls. With just 3 seconds remaining in the second quarter, he’s at the foul line to shoot two with 35 points. Misses the second one and finishes the half with 36 points.

What’s even more impressive is that he plays lockdown defense on Smith who goes only 2 for 8 in the first half. And one of those two baskets comes when Jordan is on the bench.

At half time Bulls have a 14 point lead and the game is practically over. Since the mission is accomplished, Jordan plays very loose in the third and sits the whole fourth quarter.

Here are some post game notes and quotes:

“I was in a different game mode this time,” said Jordan, who hit 36 of his 47 points in the first half. “LaBradford put me there.

“What bothered me {Friday} was that the guy came at me and was very aggressive, and my retaliation was terrible,” Jordan said. “I played terrible. I wasn’t prepared for it. He surprised me with the way he attacked me.”

“I didn’t have any hard feelings toward LaBradford Smith. He really showed people something, that they’ve got a good player.”

“But I didn’t have any animosity toward him at all. I told B.J. {Armstrong} before the game that it was going to be a personal game, but I won’t take it out of the team concept.”

“We were talking a little trash. He told me, `Cool off. Cool off.’ And I said, `You didn’t cool off on me (Friday) night. Why should I cool off on you?’

Jordan jumped on Smith in a hurry, hitting his first eight shots. He nailed a 10-foot baseline jumper to open the game, then a 21-footer from the top of the key for a 4-0 Bulls lead.

He played under a spell. He gave the Bulls the lead for keeps when he broke a 6-6 tie with a 19-footer and the Bulls gradually extended their lead to as many as 30 in the late fourth.

Smith chased Jordan around pick after pick. But Jordan undressed him in the open. He would juke Smith one way and drive or shoot the other.

Smith also had to grapple with Jordan’s defense. The open shots that he feasted on the previous night were erased by Jordan’s waving arms.

His 36 points were his season-high for a half, surpassing the 35 he scored in the second half against the Charlotte Hornets March 12. It also was a record for a Bullets opponent.

“That’s the way it goes sometimes,” Smith said. “He’s a superstar and a great athlete. He came out and he was on. It’s hard enough when he isn’t on.

“I knew before the game LaBradford was in trouble and that Michael was going to get even because he was real serious and quiet,” reserve center Stacey King said. “Then when the fireworks started, it got hard to concentrate on what you’re doing because you want to watch Michael do his thing, too.”

“I told myself that the 37 points he gave me Friday night, I wanted to give him in the first half,” said Jordan, who had 19 in the first quarter, mostly on jumpers. “I missed that free throw {at the end of the second quarter}, and it made me mad.

“I was going to come out and see how I felt, and see if I could just ride it. I got hot. I saw the goal pretty good, and I just shot it and I got in a good rythmn.”

Said Bulls coach Phil Jackson: “Michael was ready to play {Smith} tonight. He had a little bit of vengeance. It seemed to be a personal vendetta for the first 10 minutes of the game. I think the message was sent and delivered, and everybody was all right from then on out.”


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