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Jordan making real point

By ROBERT J. MURPHY, UPI Sports Writer

CHICAGO -- There is no doubt Michael Jordan is a perfectionist. So when he says he's making some mistakes at his new point guard position and learning from those mistakes, look out.

Jordan, switched to point guard 11 games ago, already has collected 137 assists while the Chicago Bulls were running up a 9-2 record. That 12.5 average, spread across the entire season, would put him in third place behind Utah's John Stockton and the Lakers' Magic Johnson.

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While his scoring average has dropped slightly, Jordan has been 'getting used' to his new position by dishing off some of the fanciest assists by a Bull since Norn Van Lier in the early '70s. Last Friday, he racked up a career-high 17 assists at Portland.

The result has been a string of six straight victories, with the Bulls moving into fourth place in the Central Division and climbing. Jordan, who admittedly was not that happy about a month ago, says he is happy now.

'I think it's something that's going to help me and help the team,' he said of his switch to the point.

'I think it's really given the defense a different look and is something hard to adjust to with Michael Jordan having the ball constantly and the rest of the guys sitting over cocked and ready to shoot their guns. I think they haven't quite figured out a way to beat it yet.'

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The defending NBA Most Valuable Player shares credit for the switch with Coach Doug Collins, saying, 'It was more or less a request and more or less an appointment.'

It is no secret, however, that the switch came after Jordan held a closed-door meeting with Collins, at which time he reportedly expressed his unhappiness with his role. Collins, after the first few games, was referring to the move as an experiment, although it is looking more permanent every game.

'I mentioned that something had to be done to get more consistency in our play,' Jordan recalled of the conversation he had with Collins. 'He asked me to be a leader, and I said it's hard to lead from the second guard position and it's better for me to lead from the point guard position.'

Jordan's teammates have been coming through for the most part, allowing the team's star player to conserve energy and avoid the wear and tear he was taking earlier in the season.

'We've just really been getting some help from other players. And it hasn't been a one-man show, a one-man responsiblity of carrying the offensive load, which has really taken a lot off of me,' said Jordan. 'I'm not nearly doing as much work as everybody thinks I am.

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'I'm making some mistakes playing that position, but for the most part I'm starting to like it. I would have never dreamed of myself playing point guard. I always thought I was a natural No. 2 guard. But for the better of the team and the way the team's jelled together and the way I have responded in playing that position, you got to like it. You can't hate it.'

Guard Craig Hodges has been one of the beneficiaries of the new system. He not only is in the starting lineup, but gets plenty of chances to unleash his deadly 3-point shot while his defender is busy chasing Jordan.

'The main thing is it's harder for other teams to double-team him that high on the court because he can find people so well that it's leaving us with wide-open shots,' said Hodges.

The move also has received rave reviews from opposing coaches, who are having to scramble their defensive plans, which used to consist of trying to stop Jordan from getting the ball. Now he gets the ball straight off the rebound.

'There are a few of us coaches who have asked about it for years but were glad they hadn't made the move,' said Warriors Coach Don Nelson. 'It's quite an advantage that they found.'

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