CHICAGO (AP)—It looked just like old times, with Tim Floyd pacing up and down the sidelines on the west side of the United Center, grimacing and yelling at the action in front of him.
This time, however, he left the court a winner.
The New Orleans Hornets gave Floyd a victory in his first trip back to Chicago, beating the Bulls 97-91 Saturday night.
“I’m really not being numb,” Floyd said. “We should win this game. We have more veterans, more experience. More than anything, it was a relief because we lost (Friday) night and we really needed a win.”
Floyd may not have attached any extra significance, but his players did. Playing with stitches in his elbow, Darrell Armstrong scored a season-high 23 points to lead five Hornets in double figures.
“It was big to come back here tonight to win and also to win it for Tim,” said Armstrong, who hit a 3-pointer to spark a 13-2 run late in the fourth quarter that decided the game.
“I definitely wanted to get him a win tonight.”
Jamal Crawford scored 23 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to keep Chicago from its ninth loss in 10 games.
“Not really, we want to beat everybody,” Crawford said when asked if the loss was tougher because it was against Floyd. “At this point, we need all the wins we can get.”
Floyd had faced the Bulls twice before, losing in an exhibition game and then again last month. Both of those games were in New Orleans, though, making this Floyd’s first trip back to Chicago since he resigned Dec. 24, 2001, with a 49-190 record.
Fans booed when his name was announced, no doubt remembering his dismal tenure. But Floyd was given an almost impossible task when he was hired by the Bulls in the summer of 1998.
When Michael Jordan retired after the Bulls won their sixth NBA title in eight years, general manager Jerry Krause decided to blow up the championship gang. So instead of Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Floyd got players such as Kornel David and Rusty LaRue.
The free agents Krause imagined would flock to Chicago never came, so Floyd was left with a bunch of youngsters and retreads. He was 49-190 in three-plus seasons and never won more than 17 games, unable to do little more than watch as the proud franchise went from a dynasty to the laughingstock of the NBA.
“We had a press conference here that first year and it was laid out to the public what was going to happen,” Floyd said before Saturday’s game. “We said we’re not going to be very good. We’re going to build it through the draft. It’s an amazing thing, we weren’t very good, we accomplished what we set out to do
“Had we gotten the free agents, everything would have been a little different, a little better,” Floyd added. “But the plan—it’s hard to predict what free agents are going to do.”
Floyd finally had enough, resigning on Christmas Eve 2001 and going back to New Orleans. He wasn’t sure what kind of opportunities there would be for a guy with his record, and he passed when approached about college jobs and being an NBA assistant.
Then the Hornets fired Paul Silas, and Floyd found himself back in the NBA.
“We were fortunate to have an opportunity here, and Jerry Reinsdorf gave us that opportunity,” Floyd said. “And it has done a lot of great things for our family as a result. Without this opportunity, we wouldn’t be here right now in New Orleans in a situation that is really great for us.
“Things have a way of working out.”
That they do. The Hornets are 14-7, tied for second place in the Central Division. The Bulls are still struggling, though they’re showing signs of improvement.
The Bulls actually led most of the game, and were up by as many as seven near the end of the third quarter. Crawford hit a 21-footer to put Chicago up 80-77 with 3:19 to play, but the Bulls couldn’t close it out. They made justone field goal in the next 2 1/2 minutes.
Crawford’s 10 field goals in the fourth quarter set a United Center record. … The Hornets are now 6-1 in the second half of back-to-back games. … Bulls F Eddie Robinson had the flu and wasn’t at the game. … Hornets C Sean Rooks (death in the family) and F Robert Traylor (personal reasons) didn’ttravel with the team.