Jordan scores 44, but Jazz teams up for win

Wizards suffer sixth straight loss, 101-92

November 17, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - This could have been the United Center or the Delta Center, circa 1998. This could have been another night when Michael Jordan torched Bryon Russell and beat the Utah Jazz.

But this is 2001, and if any game of the nine Jordan has played with the Washington Wizards this season demonstrated that difference, it was the one he played last night at the sold-out MCI Center.

Jordan lit up Russell just as he did in the 1998 NBA Finals, but his season-high 44 points was not enough for the Wizards in a 101-92 defeat. It was not enough because only one of his teammates, Richard Hamilton, finished in double figures with 14 points.

Coming off a 32-point loss in Atlanta on Wednesday, the slumping Jazz (4-6) got 30 points and 12 rebounds from Karl Malone, 28 points from Donyell Marshall, 18 from Quincy Lewis and 17 assists from John Stockton.

The result was the sixth straight defeat for the 2-7 Wizards, tying the longest losing streak in Jordan's career. It was also the most competitive Washington has been during its losing streak.

"I'm disappointed for the guys, they played their hearts out," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "That was our best game of the season. But if you make mistakes against Utah, they take advantage."

That's exactly what the Jazz did after the Wizards erased a 10-point deficit, tying the game twice in the fourth quarter. But after Kwame Brown's two free throws tied the game at 89 with 4:42 left, Utah scored the next seven points.

While Malone and Stockton had help from some of their younger teammates, Jordan did not. Jordan shot 17 of 33 from the field, including his first three-pointer as a Wizard, but the rest of the team was 15 of 56. Conversely, the Jazz shot 40 of 77 from the field.

"I was the only one who shot well," Jordan said. "We kept trying to get the ball inside, but we missed a lot of layups."

Jordan had an interesting rematch of sorts with Russell. After hitting a few early shots against Lewis, Jordan found himself guarded by Russell for most of the second quarter. Jordan wound up hitting eight of 10 shots against the player who defended him on his last shot with the Bulls.

"He's not going to back down and neither am I," said Jordan, who gave Russell a gentle shove on one shot similar to the move he made in hitting the game-winner in the 1998 Finals. "We were just reminiscing a little bit."

While last night's game did not come down to a final shot, Collins said that his team's most recent defeat is just another case of payback for what Jordan did during his 13 years in Chicago.

"We, I mean No. 23 brings out the best in everybody," Collins said. "They're not playing the 19-63 Wizards, they're playing the '98 Bulls."

NOTES: Jordan's point total tied him for the highest single-game performance this season, with Orlando's Tracy McGrady and Denver's Nick Van Exel. ... Hubert Davis, who hit two three-pointers during the comeback last night, was activated yesterday after Tyronn Lue was put on the injured list with a bruised hand. ... The Wizards had 20 offensive rebounds, but scored just 16 points.

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