Jordan, Wizards defenseless vs. Pistons' taunting, 100-78

Detroit's rout has fans crowing

4th game in 6 days tires Washington

Pro Basketball

November 05, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Michael Jordan's first trip back here for a preseason game last month was filled with good wishes from the fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills and a bit of reverence on the part of the Detroit Pistons. That was the scene for Jordan's first NBA action in three years and his first with the Washington Wizards.

The warm fuzzies were gone last night, and so was any hint of awe.

While the Wizards were being pummeled by the Pistons, 100-78, Jordan was being heckled by their fans worse than he ever was when he played for the Chicago Bulls. The biggest difference from those years with the Bulls was that neither he nor his teammates could stop the Pistons or silence the crowd.

After giving up only 33 points in the second half of Saturday night's home victory over the Philadelphia 76ers and 35 to the Hawks in the second half of their win in Atlanta on Thursday, the Wizards surrendered 61 points in the first half, including three-point shots at the first-quarter and halftime buzzer.

Washington's third-quarter defense wasn't much better, and what had been a 24-point halftime deficit quickly sprouted. After scoring 19 points in 22 minutes, Jordan left the game a little more than four minutes into the second half and didn't return.

While Jordan seemed to take a while to get loose in playing on successive nights for the first time this season, the rest of the Wizards looked just as stiff as their 38-year-old star. After playing four games in six days, Washington (2-2) won't play again until Wednesday in Boston.

"I felt good, but obviously we just didn't come prepared to play and compete," Jordan said. "As a young team, that's something we're going to have to eliminate."

Jerry Stackhouse, who followed Jordan's legacy at North Carolina to become an All-American and NBA All-Star in his own right, led the Pistons (3-1) to their third straight win. Stackhouse scored 22 of his game-high 28 points in the first half, including 15 in the opening quarter.

Jordan finished the game shooting 8-for-18 from the field, but aside from a few short turnaround jumpers, he continued to struggle with his outside shot. Unlike the two previous games, Jordan received no help from his teammates.

Stackhouse has been through that himself, as recently as last season.

"I know how it is to have five guys on the other team watching me, and four guys on my team watching me," said Stackhouse, who wound up shooting 12-for-17 from the field.

For the most part, the Wizards were as flat as Jordan's jumper.

Richard Hamilton, coming off a 29-point game against Philadelphia, hit his first two jump shots but wound up 3-for-11, finishing with six points. After scoring in double figures in each of his team's first three games, starting point guard Chris Whitney scored only three on 1-for-6 shooting.

Defensively, the Wizards allowed the Pistons to shoot 12-for-22 in the first quarter and improve to 13-for-21 in the second quarter. Detroit was 7-for-10 on threes for the first half. Dana Barros shot 5-for-8 on threes for the game and finished with 18 points.

"We started the game like fool's gold," said Wizards coach Doug Collins. "We hit a few shots, but we didn't defend the whole night. ... [Pistons coach] Rick Carlisle was nice to us. He could have beat us by 50."

By the time the deficit had grown to 85-48 late in the third quarter, Jordan was sitting on the bench, looking grim-faced and taking the kind of verbal abuse he was rarely in the position to receive during much of his career.

Former Piston Christian Laettner took his share as well, and delighted the hecklers by making only three of 11 shots. Collins, who coached the Pistons for a little more than two years before being fired 45 games into the 1997-98 season, was also a target.

It had been a long time since Jordan was on the losing end of such a blowout.

"It's no different losing by one or getting blown out by 35," he said by his locker in the team's quiet dressing room. "It's not a great feeling. They're very loyal fans; they're going to try to do everything to get me off my game. If I do my job, I can shut them up."

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