Scottie Pippen's role in the Chicago Bulls' glorious past was there for all to see. A 2 1/2-minute video tribute highlighting his 11-year career that produced six championships flashed across a huge scoreboard last night at United Center.
Once the welcome home festivities were over and the warm ovation ended, it was time to play basketball.
"It was very emotional for me, but I tried to handle it as well as possible realizing I had a game to play," Pippen said as he made his return to Chicago with the Portland Trail Blazers.
"I'm just glad I didn't have to make a speech. I was able to sort of work my way out of that. It was something that brought back a lot of memories for me, a lot of things I miss about this city, playing in this arena."
Pippen had 11 points and six assists as the Trail Blazers did what nearly every team has done since he and Michael Jordan left--they routed the overmatched Bulls, 88-63, holding Chicago to the fewest points in the NBA this season.
"It's a tough situation for the Bulls," Pippen said. "They're playing hard, but nothing seems to be going in their favor and mistakes just compound. They have a lot of inexperienced players, players who haven't been in pressure situations or big games and they don't know each other.
"You want to feel sorry for them, but you can't."
Damon Stoudamire led Portland with 16 points and Bonzi Wells added 15. Elton Brand paced the Bulls with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
"I see a team with limitations now," Bulls Coach Tim Floyd said. "I don't associate lack of shot-making with being noncompetitive."
After missing his first two shots, Pippen made three of his next four and also went high to block a layup attempt by former teammate Randy Brown, showing the skill that has long made him one of the game's best defensive players.
"I felt bad after I did it," Pippen said.
Pippen was cheered loudly as the lights were turned down and the video highlight played.
After it was over, he went to center court and--biting his lip to hold his emotions--waved to the crowd.
76ERS 124, BUCKS 120: Allen Iverson scored 45 points on a career-high 38 shots as host Philadelphia survived a frantic overtime to beat Milwaukee.
Iverson was only 1 for 5 in overtime, but Ray Allen's running jumper and Scott Williams's tip-in attempt both rimmed out as the Bucks failed to make another stunning comeback.
Former 76er Tim Thomas sent the game into overtime with a three-pointer that tied it at 115 with 3.4 seconds left in regulation.
Iverson was 16 for 38 from the field, surpassing his career high in attempts by two. He scored 40-plus points for the second time in six games and third time this season. Iverson was one point shy of his season high and five shy of his career high of 50.
"I'm so tired I really can't even analyze the game," Iverson said. "I missed shoot-around because I wasn't feeling well. At times on the court, I felt like I was going to die."
CELTICS 105, CAVALIERS 98: Antoine Walker had 32 points and 13 rebounds, both game highs, as Boston won on its new parquet floor.
Paul Pierce had 17 points and Kenny Anderson 16 for the Celtics. Adrian Griffin and Vitaly Potapenko added 12 points as Boston's starters scored all but 16 of the team's points.
A big roar went up at halftime when the scoreboard showed a news brief that included a report that New England Patriots coach Pete Carroll was fired.
PISTONS 118, MAGIC 106: Grant Hill scored a season-high 42 points as Detroit snapped a 13-game losing streak in Orlando.
Hill, whose previous high was 41 against Miami in the season opener, made 17 of 30 field goal attempts as the Pistons won their fourth straight.
Hill was 3 for 5 from three-point range. Lindsey Hunter scored 25 points and Jerry Stackhouse added 19 for Detroit.
JAZZ 109, NUGGETS 89: Karl Malone scored 33 points and Bryon Russell added 17 to lead Utah at home.
Jazz rookie Quincy Lewis added a career-high 14 points, and John Stockton totaled 18 assists as the Jazz won its 11th game in its last 14.
Antonio McDyess led the Nuggets with 24 points, and Nick Van Exel and George McCloud each added 16.