CHICAGO, DEC. 25 -- Michael Jordan scored 37 points, including eight in a rough-and-tumble fourth quarter, as the revenge-minded Chicago Bulls held off the Detroit Pistons, 98-86, in a Christmas Day game that made up in intensity what it lacked in holiday cheer.

Jordan, celebrating the birth of his second son one day earlier, said he had little sleep in the previous few days, but did not play like he was tired.

"It was very inspiring to go out and play knowing that you've helped bring somebody into the world," Jordan said. "I figured the only way it would get better is if we went out and beat up on the Pistons. Then we did that."

Figuratively and literally.

The pushing and shoving that was evident under both baskets at the start flared briefly near the end, and led to the ejection of Chicago's Horace Grant with 3:05 remaining and the Bulls leading 89-79.

Joe Dumars, who was not ejected, threw an elbow into Grant's stomach as the Bulls' Scottie Pippen was moving the ball upcourt. Grant retaliated by throwing a punch in full view of the officials, who then stepped between the two before any more punches.

The Bulls began the final period protecting a 73-64 lead, and the Pistons, who lost for the ninth time in their last 50 road games, never got closer than four the rest of the way.

Dumars led Detroit with 24 points and Isiah Thomas added 23.

John Paxson, who took advantage of Detroit's double- and triple-team defensive schemes against Jordan, contributed 15 points for Chicago and Pippen scored 14. Grant, who lost his starting role to Stacey King for the first time this season, had eight before he was ejected.

Trailing 50-45 at halftime, the Bulls took the lead for the first time since the opening minutes by scoring 11 straight points after Thomas opened the period with a 15-foot jumper. The Bulls stretched the lead to nine points by the end of the third quarter when Jordan made a three-pointer from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded.

The game was the second this season in a rivalry that has become one of the NBA's most closely watched over the last three seasons. The Pistons, who reached the NBA Finals in the first of those seasons and followed with consecutive championships, have beaten the Bulls in each of the last two Eastern Conference finals. They also held a 15-3 advantage in regular season games coming into this year, including five in a row.

In their only previous meeting this season, Detroit ended its worst skid since 1985 by hammering the Bulls, 105-84, at home last week.

Today, Detroit led 28-23 at the end of the first quarter and ran off eight straight points midway through a four-minute stretch of the second to take its biggest lead of the half, 40-31. But Jordan, who finished with 17 points in the half, scored four of the Bulls' closing seven baskets to pull Chicago within five by the end of the period.

The pushing and shoving under the basket got so fierce at one early juncture that Pistons Coach Chuck Daly received a technical foul after screaming at officials about the screens the Bulls set to spring Jordan.

There apparently were no hard feelings afterward.

"I set a back pick and {Dumars} hit me with a fairly hard elbow," Grant said. "So I retaliated with a swing."

"I'm sorry. It was just an unfortunate incident," Dumars said. "I apologized to him before he came over and left the court."