Seventh no heaven for Jordan, Wizards

Hornets extend skid despite legend's 30

November 21, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON M-y There is only one kind of history for the Washington Wizards, and it is of a dubious nature. A team that set the record for the most losses in franchise history last season helped Michael Jordan to a mark he probably never considered when he returned to the NBA this season.

A 95-88 loss to the undermanned Charlotte Hornets last night at MCI Center was the seventh straight for the Wizards (2-8), matching the same horrendous start they had the past two years. It eclipsed the six-game losing streak Jordan experienced during his third season with the Chicago Bulls.

It didn't even matter that the Hornets (5-5) played without two of their three leading scorers, forward Jamal Mashburn and guard David Wesley. Four of the five Charlotte starters were in double figures. Baron Davis led the Hornets with 32 points. Lee Nailon, who started for Mashburn, finished with 18 points.

Once again, Jordan had little support and seemed to run out of gas in the fourth quarter. Jordan finished with 30 points on 13-for-23 shooting, but didn't play with the same energy as he did early. The other four Washington starters scored just six points, and Hubert Davis added 12 points and Richard Hamilton scored 10 off the bench.

The third-quarter malaise also hit the Wizards again. Leading at halftime, 40-38, the Wizards were still leading, 46-44, when the Hornets went on a 10-2 run that could have been worse had Baron Davis not missed a couple of free throws. Charlotte was still leading by six, 60-54, when Jordan went to the bench with 3:41 left in the quarter.

Washington's deficit grew to 10, as a post-up layup by reserve center Jamal Magliore made it 64-56 and, after Christian Laettner lost the ball as he fell out of bounds, Davis scored on a dunk over Tyrone Nesby, who fouled him. Davis missed another free throw for the Hornets.

Laettner threw another pass away for the Wizards, but Charlotte couldn't capitalize. Hubert Davis hit a fallaway three for Washington, cutting the deficit to at the end of the third quarter. Going into the fourth quarter, only one Washington starter had scored a field goal aside from Jordan, who had 22 points on 10-for-18 shooting.

The deficit continued to grow. It was 68-59, on a pair of free throws by Elden Campbell. It was 71-60, on a 17-footer by reserve forward Matt Bullard. And, a few seconds later, it was 13, 73-60, when Hubert Davis lost his dribble and reserve guard Bryce Drew scored on a layup with 9:26 left. The Wizards called timeout.

It didn't help. Two baskets by Baron Davis, the second one a 25-foot bank shot, increased Charlotte's lead to 81-66. The loss was the fifth in as many games on the homestand for the Wizards, who play four of the next five on the road beginning tomorrow in timeout and Jordan to have some choice words for his teammates.

This time the Wizards didn't wait until the second or third quarter to fall behind. They watched M-y with the operative word being watched M-y the Hornets score the first six points and eight of the first nine, prompting coach Doug Collins to take an early timeout and Jordan to have some choice words for his teammates.

It wasn't until Collins made nearly wholesale changes, taking out three starters less than five minutes into the game, that the Wizards got rolling. With veterans Popeye Jones, Laettner and Hubert Davis supporting Jordan, Washington turned its early seven-point deficit into a 34-27 lead midway through the second quarter.

But Collins made some substitutions, and the Wizards lost their momentum. They scored only one basket and four points on their last nine possessions of the half and watched the Hornets cut their deficit to at halftime. It was only the third time this season that Washington led at halftime.

As happened against Utah, Jordan scored nearly half his team's first-half points. Jordan finished the half with 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting. No other Wizard had more than six. Campbell led Charlotte with 10 points and six rebounds, with Baron Davis contributing eight points, five rebounds and four assists.

Neither team shot the ball well. The Hornets were a dismal 14 of 43, and only stayed competitive by hitting the offensive boards (11 of 25 rebounds), while the Wizards weren't much better, shooting 15 of 39. Aside from Jordan, Washington's other starters were a combined 0-for-5. Laettner was the only other starter to score (four free throws).

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