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Monday, October 19, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jordan Calls Title Shot

Associated Press

NBA playoffs

The Chicago Bulls will repeat as NBA champions, Michael Jordan says, even if Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc aren’t fully recovered from injuries.

“I believe we can win with what we have,” Jordan said. “By no means am I going to go in worried if they’re healthy or not. I go in with the idea that they can give us something, and something’s better than nothing, and that can make us a better team.”

Rodman and Kukoc both expect to be ready by Friday night, when the Bulls open their best-of-five first-round series against the Washington Bullets at the United Center.

Rodman, the NBA’s leading rebounder for the sixth consecutive season, has missed the last 13 games because of a sprained knee ligament. Kukoc, the league’s top reserve last year, was sidelined the final six weeks of the regular season by tendinitis in his foot.

Both are supposed to work out today, when Chicago returns to the practice floor after taking two days off. The Bulls ended the regular season Saturday by losing to New York, giving them defeats in three of their last four games and costing them a second straight 70-victory season.

“Seventy sounds better than 69, but either way you put additional pressure on yourself,” Jordan said. “If you win 70, you’re expected to win the championship. If you win 69, I’m pretty sure the expectations are just as high. It’s only a number.”

The Bulls finished 69-13 after going 72-10 in 1995-96.

“What you need to realize is that this team played undermanned for much of the season,” coach Phil Jackson said, “and it catches up to you.”

“Defending (a championship) is the most difficult thing you have to do in athletics,” Jordan said.

Because of the injuries to Rodman and Kukoc, Jordan and Scottie Pippen had to play more than Jackson wanted them to. Jordan, 34, ended up with 3,106 minutes, his most in six seasons. Pippen, 31, played 3,091, almost a career high.

Injured center Bill Wennington and seldom-used forward Dickey Simpkins will sit out the 1997 playoffs, the Bulls announced.

Barkley: Look out, T-Wolves

Charles Barkley already is trying to unnerve the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Barkley, whose Houston Rockets meet Minnesota in a first-round playoff series that begins Thursday at The Summit, called Minnesota’s Chris Carr to say the Rockets plan to sweep the best-of-five series.

“He said there’s a train coming down the track, and it was going to run over the Timberwolves,” Minnesota’s Doug West said after Monday’s workout.

Carr also refuted Barkley’s prediction of a sweep.

“That’s what he thinks,” Carr said. “He’s got another think coming.”

Lakers leave McCloud home

The Los Angeles Lakers have decided to leave forward George McCloud off their playoff roster.

The Lakers acquired McCloud from New Jersey on Feb. 20 in exchange for center Joe Kleine, a first-round draft choice and a conditional second-round pick.

McCloud was placed on the injured list because of a strained lower back on April 11, when Shaquille O’Neal was activated after being sidelined for two months due to an injured left knee.

Around the league

Look for the Bulls to play a form of a zone defense against Washington because the Bullets are one of the league’s poorest 3-point shooting teams and attempted the third-fewest from beyond the arc… . No one is more excited about playing the Knicks than Charlotte’s Anthony Mason, who would love to get back at the team that traded him. And don’t be surprised if New York coach Jeff Van Gundy, facing a job loss with a first-round elimination, goes more to John Wallace at times over Larry Johnson. Said Mason: “I’m definitely a different player now. It wasn’t like New York was a nightmare. I just have had a chance to grow and show more of my game. In New York they want you to improve and then level off because they’ve already got their so-called star.” … The Miami Heat set up camp 50 miles north of Miami Arena to prepare for their playoff series against the Orlando Magic. Coach Pat Riley said the retreat to the suburbs was something he began doing 15 years ago with the Los Angeles Lakers, who trained in Santa Barbara before starting the playoffs.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ON DECK Thursday’s games Charlotte at New York Orlando at Miami Minnesota at Houston L.A. Clippers at Utah

Friday’s games Detroit at Atlanta Washington at Chicago Phoenix at Seattle Portland at L.A. Lakers

This sidebar appeared with the story: ON DECK Thursday’s games Charlotte at New York Orlando at Miami Minnesota at Houston L.A. Clippers at Utah

Friday’s games Detroit at Atlanta Washington at Chicago Phoenix at Seattle Portland at L.A. Lakers

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