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The Last Dance

By The Numbers: Six stats that define the season Michael Jordan wore No. 45

On March 18, 1995, Michael Jordan rocked the world with two words.

"I'm back."

Following a year and a half away from the Chicago Bulls, Jordan announced in a statement that he was coming back to the NBA. He joined the Bulls for the final 17 games of the 1994-95 regular season and was a part of the team's playoff run that saw them defeat the Charlotte Hornets in the first round before losing to the Orlando Magic in the second round.

The mark of what he called a new beginning, Jordan did so while wearing No. 45. He would wear that number until Game 2 of Chicago's second-round series against the Magic for reasons that we'll get into below.

With that in mind, onto the stats!

19: How many points Jordan scored in his highly anticipated return

Not far off from being two years removed from playing his last game in the NBA, Jordan returned to action on March 19, 1995, against the Indiana Pacers.

Other than it being his first game back from retirement, it wasn't a particularly memorable game for Jordan. He contributed in a number of ways with 19 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals, but he shot only 7-for-28 from the field, making for one of the worst shooting performances of his career.

Bulls head coach Phil Jackson, however, was encouraged by what he saw.

"Michael showed his brilliance in many ways," Jackson said after the game. "The shot was long all day, but he played very good basketball all day and gave us an impetus ... most of these guys haven't played with him before and it was an experience for them, too, and a good one, I think."

The Bulls lost to the Pacers in overtime by a final score of 103-96. Reggie Miller was the star for Indiana, as he poured in a team-high 28 points.

55: Jordan's season-high in scoring

Jordan may have been rusty in his return, but it didn't take him long to look like the Jordan of old again.

Less than 10 days after Chicago's loss to Indiana, Jordan had his famous "Double Nickel" game, in which he scored 55 points against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. He shot an efficient 21-for-37 from the field, 3-for-4 from 3-point range and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line.

Led by Jordan, the Bulls walked away with the 113-111 win to improve to 37-33 on the season.

NBA.com's Kyle Irving ranked this as the 10th-best game of Jordan's career.

1: How many game-winning buzzer-beaters Jordan hit

As if Jordan scoring 55 points against the Knicks in only his fifth game back wasn't impressive enough, this is what he did to the Atlanta Hawks the game before:

Despite playing in less than a quarter of the season, Jordan became one of only 10 players to hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in 1994-95.

MORE: Watch every single buzzer-beater of Jordan's career

Jordan went on to make a total of nine game-winning buzzer-beaters in his NBA career, the most all-time.

50.0: Jordan's 3-point shooting percentage

It wasn't over a particularly large sample size, but Jordan was far more effective from beyond the arc than inside the arc during the 1994-95 season. He made exactly half of his 3-point field goals compared to 40.3 percent of his 2-point field goals, the latter of which was the lowest mark of his career.

That led to several truly bizarre games, such as Jordan going a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range while missing 18 of his 25 attempts from 2-point range in Chicago's loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the final game of the regular season.

Interestingly enough, Jordan's 3-point shooting carried over into the following seasons. Whereas he averaged 1.4 3-point attempts per game and made them at a 30.1 percent clip prior to his return in 1994, he averaged 3.3 3-point attempts per game and made them at a 40.4 percent clip between 1994 and 1997.

With his 2-point percentage returning back to normal, it helped Jordan lead the league in scoring three more times.

13: How many regular-season games the Bulls won with Jordan

Which means, they only lost four.

In going 13-4 with Jordan in the lineup, the Bulls finished the regular season with a 47-35 record, giving them the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference behind the Magic (57-25), Knicks (55-27), Pacers (52-30) and Hornets (50-32).

Jordan's averages in those 17 games? 26.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks, albeit on 41.1 percent shooting from the field.

The Bulls faced the Hornets in the first round of the playoffs and took care of business, beating them in four games back when each first-round series was best-of-five.

Jordan was nothing short of spectacular. In Game 1, he led the Bulls to a win with 48 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. He then scored 25 points and 24 points in Games 3 and 4, respectively, to close the series out.

That set up a date with the Magic in the second round.

5: The number of games Jordan wore No. 23

Jordan's last game wearing No. 45 was Game 1 of 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

What happened in that game? Jordan was not quite himself. Not only did he finish with 19 points on 8-for-22 shooting from the field, he had over twice as many turnovers (8) as assists (3). Based on Game Score, it was the least productive playoff game of Jordan's career.

His performance prompted Magic guard Nick Anderson, who came up with a big steal on Jordan down the stretch to secure Orlando the win, to say the following.

"No. 45 doesn't explode like No. 23 used to," Anderson told reporters. "No. 45 is not No. 23. I couldn't have done that to No. 23."

The next time Jordan took the court, he was wearing No. 23. The Magic would go on to win the series in six games, but Jordan reminded the world of what he was capable of by averaging 33.4 points to go along with 6.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.2 steals from Game 2 onwards.

Jordan would get his revenge next season by sweeping the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals en route to the first of three straight championships for the Bulls.

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