Wizards top Raptors for their fourth win in row

Defense, rebounding, Jordan's 23 do it, 99-94

Pro Basketball

February 06, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - If ever a single victory could symbolize the good old-fashioned value of tenacity, last night's 99-94 Washington Wizards' win over the Toronto Raptors would be the example.

Trailing by as many as eight points in the third period, and with their two big guns, Michael Jordan and Richard Hamilton, shooting poorly, the Wizards stuck to the basics of solid defense and rebounding to stay close, until Hamilton and Jordan could deliver.

Jordan, who had just three points in the first half, hit for 23, while Hamilton, who shot just 5-for-18, hit the crucial jumper with 2:28 remaining to give Washington (25-21) a 93-86 lead and their fourth straight win, and their sixth victory in the past seven.

The teams traded leads early in the fourth quarter, with Jordan hitting a pair of 18-footers over Vince Carter to start the period to give Washington a four-point lead. However, Dell Curry hit a three-pointer and an 18-foot jumper, combined with two long jumpers from Alvin Williams to put Toronto (28-21) ahead 84-81.

From there, the Wizards went on a 12-2 run, with two baskets from Jordan and a pair from Hamilton, the last coming at the 2:28 mark as the shot clock expired.

Carter scored a game-high 29 points, but only four in the fourth period. Washington's Chris Whitney and Popeye Jones had 14 points each, as the Wizards out-rebounded Toronto 50-27.

Trailing by five at halftime, the Wizards broke off a 12-6 run to start the third, with Whitney hitting two three-pointers in the spurt, the second coming with 8:54 remaining to give Washington a 58-57 lead, its first advantage since midway through the second period.

But the Raptors, one night removed from a tough road win over Philadelphia Monday, responded with a 13-4 spurt of their own, with Carter hitting four free throws and a jumper, to go along with a three-pointer from point guard Chris Childs, and took a 70-62 lead with 4:23 left in the third period.

However, the Wizards closed the period with a 13-5 run, as Jordan connected for three short jumpers and Whitney hit another three during the spurt, to tie the score at 75 at the end of three.

The Wizards broke out of the gates off a tip-in from Jones, a three-pointer from Whitney, a leaner from Hamilton and a spin move from Jordan, outscoring Toronto 11-6 in the first three minutes.

But the Raptors responded. Their big men - center Eric Montross, inserted into the starting lineup in the absence of Hakeem Olajuwon, and power forward Antonio Davis - pulled Washington's frontcourt of Jahidi White and Jones away from the basket with intermediate jumpers. And when Carter hit a three- pointer with 6:45 left in the quarter, the score was tied.

Tyrone Nesby, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds in Sun day's 20-point win over Indiana, brought energy off the bench, with two baskets in the final four minutes of the period, as Washington led 25-21 after the first quarter.

In the second, Toronto's spindly legged forward Keon Clark came off the bench with eight points, two off a gorgeous alley-oop dunk, where he caught Williams' lob and flushed it through with two hands over his head.

But Carter, who received the most All-Star votes in the league, led the charge, personally spurring Toronto on an 11-2 run, with a three-pointer on the right wing, followed by a 17-foot jumper and a 22-footer, all from the right side, to give the Raptors a 42-36 lead with 4:34 left in the quarter. In all, Carter had 16 points in the half.

Hamilton, in his second start since returning from the injured list last week, hit two free throws and sank a short jumper in the lane to get the Wizards back to within two at 44-42 with 1:46 remaining.

But the Raptors would outscore Washington 7-4 in the rest of the second period, with a three-pointer from Williams serving as the jumping-off point, to give Toronto a 51-46 lead at halftime.

NOTE: Washington coach Doug Collins said guard Hubert Davis, who has missed four games with a viral infection, may not play before the All-Star break, which begins after tomorrow's home game against Sacramento. Collins said forward Christian Laettner, who has been on the injured list since Jan. 24 with a thigh contusion, is day-to-day.

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