CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls were not in the giving mood Wednesday night, taking a 121-99 beating to the the helpless-looking Boston Celtics.
Scottie Pippen scored 27 points and Horace Grant had 17 points and 12 rebounds to power Chicago to it third straight victory.
'We were just outplayed in every aspect,' Boston Coach Chris Ford said. 'We were beaten by the defending champs. They played tough vigorous defense and we just stood around and watched. That's the whole ball of wax.'
The usual Larry Bird versus Michael Jordan matchup proved a non-event for both players. Bird was just 4 of 10 from the field and didn't go to the line once, finishing with 8 points. Jordan, the league's leading scorer, had a mere 14 points
'We just got beat, we got outplayed at both ends,' Bird said. 'They turned every steal into two points. We were ready to play when we came here but we just didn't do it well. Tonight, they beat us to every loose ball.
'In this league, you have to come every night to play. The holiday is no excuse for the way we Pmayed.'
Jort n let his teammatc do most of the work and was limited to 6-of- 14 field shooting. His point total was its lowest since Nov. 1990.
'If you people think I'm getting old, you're wrong,' Jordan said. 'I saw my shot wasn't there early so I made the pass and rebounded to help the team win.
'We have three games in four nights so having everyone involved in this win will help with endurance. We're playing well and I'm happy.'
Pippen's 16 first-half points and 12 by B.J. Armstrong (who finished with 18) enabled the Bulls to grab a 55-46 lead at intermission. All of Armstrong's points came in the second quarter.
The Bulls continued to roll in the second half. They outscored Boston 37-26 in the third period, thanks to 11 more points from Pippen. The Bulls increased the lead to 114-82 with 6:10 left in the game after Craig Hodges nailed his third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter.
Rookie Rick Fox came of the bench to pace Boston with 21 points. Reggie Lewis added 20.
Including last y Ljk " as Day, he congregation of a Gseik Church prayed for robbers to return their 'weeping' St. Irene, an icon of a 9th century nun regarded as having miraculous healing powers.
The tiny painting was stolen at gunpoint Monday from St. Irene Chrysovalantov Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the Astoria section of Queens.
Three men and a woman entered the church and ordered a priest and a deacon to open the case holding the portrait the St. Irene.
When the deacon refused to produce the key, one of the men hit him over the head with a pistol.
The bandits then broke the lock and scooped out the icon enclosed in a glass frame bedecked with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of precious stones and gold bracelets.
Many of the faithful who gathered at the church Wednesday held out the hope that the portrait might be returned by Jan. 7 -- when the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas by the old calendar.
'Where are you, where are you, St. Irene?' wailed one woman in Greek. 'I know St. Nicholas will bring you back.'
Wednesday, police were appealing to anyone who may have seen the bandits, but said so far they have no suspects.
The crime stunned the tight-knit Greek community. Ever since October 1990 when tears appeared to flow down the icon's cheeks, it has drawn thousands of the faithful to the sanctuary.
Some believers say they have proof of its healing power, and word of the weeping saint has spread around the world, turning the church into a shrine.
The head of the church, Bishop Vikentios of Avion, estimated the total value of the adornments surrounding the portrait that were given by the faithful at more than $800,000.
The church has offered a $50,000 reward, no questions asked, for the painting's return.
At a Christmas Eve mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, Roman Catholic Cardinel John N'Conner app aled to the robbers to return the portrait to him persobally.
b'St "Ir-me is highly revered in the Greek Orthodox faith as the patroness of peace ... it is particularly tragic that anyone would enter the church and steal that treasure,' he said.