Opening night to the 1990-91 season didn’t start off well for the Chicago Bulls, at all. Jordan performed at a high level and almost brought the Bulls back from a twenty-point-deficit. But the team should have never gotten to that point. Scottie Pippen and the team’s bigs, outside of Horace Grant, severely under-performed. Charles Barkley and the Sixers got some redemption and now the next time they meet the Bulls will be looking to get their own. However, that’s further along in the season.
The Bulls next game came on November 3, 1990 against the Washington Bullets. As noted in the introduction for this series, the Bullets are not a good team. The Heat destroyed them on November 2, 119-95. And like the Bulls, the Bullets had a poor shooting night.
Despite being a poor team, the Bullets do have some talent with the likes of Bernard King and Harvey Grant. However, there’s not much help for them. Plus, coming in against the Jordan-led Bulls is a tough task, even with the poor play the Bulls showcased against the Sixers.
November 3d, 1990 at Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland.
The Bulls put a focus on getting Horace Grant the ball early into the game and he had a successful first quarter against his brother, Harvey. Harvey might have shown some frustration as he got into early foul trouble. He would finish with a better statistical line and earned the admiration and love from his parents.
Speaking of not making much of an impact, Pippen continued to look like he didn’t know the basketball was supposed to go through the basket. Pippen’s shots have looked awful and he’s clearly not confident with his offensive game at this point in his career. So the narrative that Jordan always had a strong supportive group is not applying to this season at all. Pippen finished with a lackluster eight points.
King must have watched the Bulls first game because he had a killer instinct to drive into the paint and make everyone look incompetent. Bill Cartwright was oftentimes the victim of the abuse that King dished out throughout the game.
King ended up finishing with 44 points. Most of his work came from inside the paint and the free throw line. While 16 of his points came from the charity stripe, he also made 14 out of 30 shot attempts. He was also unstoppable in the fourth quarter as he didn’t miss a shot. King outperformed Jordan on this night, and I don’t think a lot of people would have thought that would happen.
In one of the most hilarious moments that I’ve encountered thus far in this series, Cartwright actually managed to make a good low post move and he promptly made a horrible shot attempt.
The Bulls often used a trap defense or full court press defensive approach and continued to have success. However, offensively they weren’t able to find much momentum due to Pippen and Grant having foul trouble heading into the fourth quarter.
Craig Hodges tried to pick up some of the offensive support for Jordan. He managed to score 14 points off the bench and drain 2 3-point shots. John Paxson and BJ Armstrong played well at the point guard position for two different reasons. Paxson has a much better shooter’s touch. Meanwhile, Armstrong provides much better energy and the up-tempo energy that the team needs. I’m looking forward to seeing how Armstrong’s play evolves and improves over time. While Paxson is dealing with a hand injury, I wouldn’t be surprised if Armstrong takes the starting role if he can develop a jump shot quickly.
Jordan had a solid night finishing with nearly 30 points and shot 50 percent from the field. His Airiness had a chance to win the game with a last-second bucket. But the Bullets were able to prevent a basket following plenty of contact in the paint. Jordan’s game is severely impacted in a negative way when he’s not able to rely on any help from Pippen or Grant.
If the Bulls don’t have a secondary option to score the basket the opposing teams are going to have a lot of success focusing on Jordan and shutting him down. At this point, there’s really nobody else that I’d be alarmed about. Cartwright is awful and it’s almost a joke to even think about him being a positive factor in any way on the court. However, Will Perdue might be a stronger option to consider at the center position. And I just realized that I have to deal with Cartwright for two additional seasons. I will show no mercy.
Michael Jordan: 28PTS, 10RBS
Craig Hodges: 14PTS
BJ Armstrong, 8PTS, 4AST
Bernard King: 44PTS, 8RBS, 6AST
AJ English: 13PTS
Harvey Grant: 12PTS, 8RBS, 2STL