Dennis Johnson, who guarded Michael Jordan for most of his team-record 49 points, scored 16 of his 26 in the third quarter last night at Boston Garden as the Celtics defeated the Chicago Bulls, 123-104, in the opening game of their first-round NBA playoff series.

Jordan's total matched his NBA career high and set a Bulls record for points in a playoff game. The previous team playoff mark was 41 by Flynn Robinson in 1968. Elgin Baylor has the league playoff record of 61 points.

Jordan, who made 18 of 36 field goal attempts and 13 of 15 free throws, had 30 points in the first half. Chicago trailed just twice in that stretch, 11-10 early and 61-59 at the half.

"When Mike gets the ball, you always think, 'Oh, my God, is it going to be one of those nights?' " Johnson said.

Johnson missed all six of his field goal attempts in the first two quarters, then made seven in a row as Boston built an 84-71 lead in the third quarter.

Five of those baskets came in a 22-6 Boston streak starting with 48 seconds left in the first half and ending with 7:56 to go in the third quarter. That put the Celtics ahead 77-65. The lead ranged from eight to 19 points the rest of the way.

"I wasn't getting any shots they weren't giving me in the first half," Johnson said. "I was just making them in the second half."

The victory was Boston's 32nd in a row at home, where the second game of the best-of-five series will be played Sunday.

Orlando Woolridge scored 25 points for the Bulls and rookie Charles Oakley had 13.

Boston, seeking its 16th NBA title, got 30 points from Larry Bird, 27 from Kevin McHale and 23 from Robert Parish.

In the first half, the Celtics only managed to gain ground when Jordan was out of the game. In the three minutes 21 seconds he was on the bench in the first two quarters, Boston outscored the Bulls, 13-0.

Jordan's steal and stuff gave Chicago its biggest lead of the game, 43-31, with 9:42 left in the first half. With the score 43-33, Jordan was replaced by George Gervin with 9:06 remaining in the half.

Boston scored the next seven points before Jordan returned and scored Chicago's next eight.

*Hawks 140, Pistons 122: Dominique Wilkins scored 28 points and Jon Koncak and Spud Webb had strong efforts off the bench in Atlanta, leading the Hawks over Detroit in the opener of their NBA first-round playoff series.

The Hawks, trailing by 12 at one point during a sloppy first quarter, took control with a 41-27 second quarter to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, which resumes Saturday in Atlanta.

"People don't expect teams to score 140 points in the playoffs," said Hawks Coach Mike Fratello. "But these teams both came out running the ball at each other, and there were just a lot of exchanges."

Wilkins made only nine of 26 field goal attempts but was 10 for 10 from the foul line. Koncak scored 19 points and Webb had 18 as Atlanta built leads of 17 points several times in the third quarter and led by as many as 20 in the closing seconds.

"They were sky-high and they played like it," Pistons Coach Chuck Daly said of the Hawks.

Bill Laimbeer led the Pistons with 26 points and Isiah Thomas had 20.

*Rockets 107, Kings 87: Akeem Olajuwon scored 29 points, leading five teammates in double figures in Houston's victory over visiting Sacramento in the first game of their best-of-five playoff series.

The second game will be played Saturday night at the Summit.

Olajuwon, who shed his bulky knee brace for the first time since he returned to action from a sprained knee March 15, also had 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

"I wanted to show them I meant business," Olajuwon said. "I wasn't even thinking about the brace until someone undercut my other leg. I don't need another injury. It's too late in the season."

Rodney McCray scored 18 points for the Rockets and Ralph Sampson finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Reggie Theus led the Kings with 18 points.

*Lakers 135, Spurs 88: Los Angeles routed San Antonio in Inglewood, Calif., with Byron Scott scoring 24 points and Magic Johnson handing out 18 assists in the playoff opener.

The Lakers took control in the opening quarter. They led by 33-23 after the first period, by 67-45 at halftime and by 97-76 at the end of the third period.

As a measure of the Lakers' dominance, the Spurs had only four rebounds in the first half -- zero in the second quarter.

Mike Mitchell led the Spurs with 24 points, 17 in the first half. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who turned 39 Wednesday, scored 16 points for the Lakers.