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Bulls defense is recording Pistons-type statistics

The Chicago Bulls, who aren't fans of the physical style of the Detroit Pistons, are certainly playing defense like the team they defeated to reach the NBA Finals. The Bulls have allowed 91.7 points in 16 playoff games, including 89.3 in the finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, who are shooting 43.3 percent from the field in the series.

The Pistons allowed 94.8 points per game in winning the championship last year.

Chicago also is trying to match the Pistons in two other feats.

The 1989 Pistons' 15-2 playoff record is the best under the current post-season format that started in 1984, and the Bulls could equal that with a victory on Wednesday.

The Pistons won three straight games at Portland to win the 1990 championship, and the Bulls have extended the Eastern Conference's winning streak on the road to seven with consecutive wins at the Forum.

Lakers acknowledge athletic ways of Bulls

The Lakers, now trailing the Bulls 3-1 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals, were frank in their assessment of Portland as a more talented team than they are.

Now they admit the Bulls are more athletic.

"They got to all the loose balls," Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy said of the Bulls' rebounding edge in Game 3.

"We have to be conscious of their athletic ability. They're quicker to the ball and they jump higher so we've got to concentrate on having our bodies on them all the time."

But don't say it's because the Bulls are younger.

"I'm not going to say the older-younger stuff has anything to do with it," said 30-year-old Lakers guard Byron Scott.

"I think it was just a matter of having a bunch of guys on our team who have been there before and a bunch of young guys on their team who've never been there before and are starting to taste blood.

"They're starting to really go after it. They got every loose ball. They got every crucial rebound. They basically just outhustled us, and that's what won the game."

Worthy's problem ankle

Lakers forward James Worthy had only one rebound in 48 minutes Friday and only nine in the first three games.

"Even James was saying, "Man, I went 48 (minutes) and only got one rebound.' That's not James Worthy," Lakers guard Magic Johnson said.

Is Worthy unable to rebound because of his sprained ankle?

"I hate to make excuses," Worthy said. "(The ankle) is not what I would like it to be. I'm having problems in traffic. I just don't have the spring."

Worthy aggravated the injury and had to leave Game 4. His status for Game 5 on Wednesday night is uncertain.

Enjoying the moment

Lakers forward Mychal Thompson didn't think Michael Jordan was doing anything in Game 2 to embarrass or taunt the Lakers.

"To me he was just having a great time and enjoying himself, enjoying the moment," Thompson said. "I didn't think there was anything wrong with what he did. Besides, if I was as good as Michael I'd be the most hated man in the universe. I'd be out there show-boating all over the court, showing everybody up."

Bonanza ratings for NBC

The much-anticipated showdown between Jordan and Johnson has been a bonanza for NBC.

Games 1 and 2 of the 1991 NBA Finals drew national Nielsen ratings of 12.6 and 16.1, up a combined 14.9 percent over the ratings for the first two games a year ago.

The rating for Game 2 was the 11th-highest in NBA history. It was the highest-rated Game 2 in NBA Finals history. The first two games last year were both in prime time while Game 1 this year was on Sunday afternoon.

The highest-rated NBA game of all time was Game 7 of the 1988 Pistons-Lakers finals, which drew a 21.2 rating. The highest-rated NBA Finals series of all time was the 1987 Lakers-Celtics finals, which averaged a 15.9 rating.

Miscellany

The Bulls committed five turnovers, setting a single-team finals record. The previous low was seven by Los Angeles against Detroit on June 13, 1989. The Bulls and Lakers combined for 15 turnovers, eclipsing the previous low of 16 by Detroit and the Lakers, also on June 13, 1989. The Lakers have now lost four straight games at home in the Finals, tying the record by the Baltimore-Washington Bullets in 1971 and 1975. The Lakers' 82 points was their lowest in a playoff game since a 108-80 loss to Utah in Game 6 of the 1988 Western semifinals. If the Bulls win the championship, Phil Jackson would become the ninth man in history to win NBA titles as a player and coach. Jackson was a member of the New York Knicks' 1973 championship team.

_ Times staff writer John Harris and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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