Wizards wake up, sneak past 76ers, 94-87

Jordan scores 30 points in Washington's 2nd win over Philly this season

Pro Basketball

November 29, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - Go figure these Washington Wizards. One night after playing one of their worst games of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Wizards played their best in beating the reigning Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia 76ers last night at the First Union Center, 94-87.

Michael Jordan scored 30 points, but got a big lift from Richard Hamilton, who scored 28 points and pulled down nine rebounds. The victory was only the second for the Wizards (4-10) in their past 10 games, but it was also the second in their past three games and their second straight this season over Philadelphia (7-7).

When the Wizards beat the 76ers during the first week of the season, Philadelphia was without Allen Iverson, Aaron McKie and Eric Snow. Iverson scored 27 points in the first half last night and finished with 40 points. McKie was barely a factor, shut down by Hamilton.

The victory for the Wizards came one night after both coach Doug Collins and Jordan questioned the team's collective heart. Washington came out with the passion that had been missing for most of the season and erased an eight-point deficit in the third quarter with a 17-4 run to take control of the game.

Leading 78-68 with a little under 11 minutes left, the Wizards watched the 76ers try to claw back. Reserve guard Raja Bell hit a baseline jumper, and a weak pass by Hubert Davis led to a turnover, with Iverson following in a missed layup by Speedy Claxton. The Wizards called timeout and Doug Collins got Jordan back in the game.

Jordan quieted the boisterous crowd temporarily by hitting a 15-foot jumper, giving Washington an 80-72 lead, but Iverson answered with a long jumper. After the Wizards stripped Derrick Coleman inside, Tyronn Lue hit a three for a 83-74 lead.

After watching a three-point halftime deficit quickly turn to eight, it looked as if the Wizards were headed for one of their prolonged funks that turn close games into blowout defeats. A strange thing happened instead: trailing 58-51, the Wizards started playing defense, and went on a 9-0 run that gave them the lead.

After Iverson's fourth straight miss of the second half and fifth straight overall, Hamilton made a short jumper for a 60-58 lead with 5:48 left in the third quarter. It was 64-61 in favor of Washington when Iverson was stripped going in for a layup, and Hamilton scored on a breakaway dunk.

Though the 76ers made a little run with a pair of free throws by Coleman and a drive by Iverson, Hamilton finished a hot quarter with a short jumper in the lane to give the Wizards a 72-66 lead. Hamilton scored 13 points in the quarter, and Washington's defense held Philadelphia to 5-for-18 shooting.

Philadelphia started the game hot, hitting its first six shots and eight of its first nine, with Iverson making his first five and six of his first seven during what would be a 17-point first quarter.

The result was an early 18-10 lead for Philadelphia, and an early timeout for the Wizards. Unlike their game against the Cavaliers, and countless others this season, Washington showed a little mettle. With Jordan taking a rest and Lue playing for the first time in two weeks, the Wizards cut their deficit to 20-18.

Trailing 27-25 at the end of the first quarter, a basket by Lue tied the score briefly before Philadelphia opened up a couple of five-point leads, the second at 38-33 on a rebound follow by Matt Harpring. But the Wizards - make that Jordan - wouldn't let the 76ers pull away.

Jordan scored 14 straight points for Washington, the last two on a fadeaway jumper over McKie with a little over a minute left in the half to cut the deficit to 48-47.

NOTES: Collins disclosed before the game that Jordan had one of his knees drained recently. Presumably, it happened the day after Jordan played a season-high 45 minutes in Saturday's overtime win against Boston. Jordan played last night with a sleeve on his right knee. ... With Lue's activation, the Wizards placed forward Tyrone Nesby on the injured list with a lower back strain. Nesby had not played in the past three games and four of the past five.

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