Youthful Pacers dispatch Wizards

Washington drops 8th straight at hands of Tinsley, O'Neal

Start is worst since '80-81

Jordan scores 21, can't overcome lapse in 3rd period, 110-103

November 23, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS - The Washington Wizards showed again last night that they don't discriminate against age.

A little over a week after falling apart in the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz, the NBA's oldest team, the Wizards did the same in the third quarter against the league's second youngest in a 110-103 defeat to the Indiana Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Before a raucous sellout crowd of 18,345 that included 91-year old coaching legend and Hoosier native John Wooden, the Pacers (8-6) handed the Wizards (2-9) their eighth straight defeat and gave the franchise its worst start since the equally woeful Bullets had the same record 20 years ago.

After making at least half his shots the past three games, Michael Jordan missed 18 of 26 attempts going up against players who were younger, taller, stronger and - in the case of Al Harrington - all of the above. Jordan finished with 21 points, as did reserve guard Hubert Davis.

Jordan wasn't blaming his shooting on a right wrist he admitted has tendinitis.

"I'm not going to make excuses," he said. "It was more my rhythm and not finishing off my shot."

Indiana was led by a pair of 23-year-olds, forward Jermaine O'Neal and rookie point guard Jamaal Tinsley. O'Neal, who is already in his sixth NBA season, scored 27 points. But it was Tinsley, already one of the season's biggest surprises, who made the biggest difference.

A former star at Iowa State who was the next-to-last pick in the first round of this year's NBA draft, Tinsley finished with his first triple double as a pro. Coming off games in which he scored 28 and 29 points, Tinsley finished with a team-record 23 assists - two short of tying the NBA rookie record - to go along 19 points and 11 rebounds.

"He's something special," said Indiana coach Isiah Thomas. "I haven't seen a guy come in the league in a long time who is doing what he is doing."

Wizards coach Doug Collins disputed the fact that Indiana's youth and energy were the only factors in the game, particularly in a third quarter in which Washington held a 56-48 lead, but was outscored 35-25.

"I don't think age was the case," said Collins. "I think the turning point was our turnovers. ... We have to find a way to start winning games."

Christian Laettner, who played a strong game to finish with 19 points and 15 rebounds, was more blunt.

"Our defense was bad in the third quarter," he said. "We gave up and it hurt us. This is getting old and we're only 11 games into the season."

Tinsley shredded Washington with his driving, and O'Neal dominated inside. O'Neal scored three of the five baskets in a 10-0 run that helped forge a 58-56 lead, and after a three-point play by Jordan pushed the Wizards back ahead, Tinsley gave the Pacers the lead for good.

By the time he was done, Indiana had a 93-80 lead with 7:15 left in the game. The Wizards had a chance to make things interesting after cutting the deficit to six on a 19-footer by Laettner with 3:37 left, but they could get no closer.

"We have a lot of youth on our ballclub, and our biggest problem is that we cannot eliminate our mistakes," said Jordan, who contributed a couple of turnovers in that decisive third-quarter stretch. "If this were a veteran team I was coming back to, I'd be more frustrated at this point."

FG FT Reb

Wizards Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Jordan 40 8-26 5-5 0-5 6 1 21

Laettner 45 8-13 3-3 7-15 7 2 19

White 17 1-2 1-3 3-6 0 1 3

RHamilton 43 9-19 0-0 2-5 6 5 19

Whitney 16 2-9 0-0 0-0 3 1 4

Jones 21 4-7 0-0 3-10 0 4 8

Davis 33 7-13 1-2 0-2 4 3 21

Brown 22 2-7 0-0 1-3 1 3 4

EThomas 3 2-4 0-1 1-1 0 0 4

Totals 240 43-100 10-14 17-47 27 20 103

Percentages: FG .430, FT .714. 3-point goals: 7-14, .500 (Davis 6-10, R.Hamilton 1-1, Jordan 0-1, Whitney 0-2). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 3 (White, E.Thomas, Jordan). Turnovers: 9 (Davis 3, Jordan 3, Brown 2, R.Hamilton). Steals: 6 (R.Hamilton 2, Jordan 2, Laettner, Brown). Technical fouls: None.

FG FT Reb

Indiana Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Rose 33 7-15 1-2 0-2 3 4 15

O'Neal 43 12-19 3-5 2-8 0 3 27

Foster 28 6-14 0-0 4-11 0 1 12

Miller 38 6-9 2-2 0-4 5 1 15

Tinsley 45 6-15 7-8 2-11 23 2 19

Croshere 19 5-6 1-2 1-2 0 3 12

Harrington 32 3-10 1-2 2-8 5 4 7

Bender 2 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 3

Totals 240 46-89 16-22 11-46 36 18 110

Percentages: FG .517, FT .727. 3-point goals: 2-6, .333 (Miller 1-2, Croshere 1-2, Foster 0-1, Tinsley 0-1). Team rebounds: 11. Blocked shots: 5 (Rose, Croshere, Foster, O'Neal, Tinsley). Turnovers: 10 (Tinsley 5, Rose 2, Harrington 2, Foster). Steals: 7 (Croshere 2, Foster 2, Miller, Harrington, Tinsley). Technical fouls: None.

Wizards 23 27 25 28 - 103

Indiana 26 20 35 29 - 110

A-18,345 (18,345). T-2:14.

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