Jordan burns Suns, 97-96

In his latest feat, 18-foot jumper at :00.2 gives Wizards victory

End redeems 7-for-19 night

Washington ends skid at two with first win in Phoenix in 13 years

February 16, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

PHOENIX - On a night when Michael Jordan was slightly off his game, he had just enough of his old magic to help pull the Washington Wizards through a mini-funk.

In just the latest addendum to his legendary career, Jordan nailed an 18-foot jumper with 00.2 of a second to go to give the Wizards a thrilling 97-96 win over the Phoenix Suns last night, on the same America West Arena floor where he made the assist to beat the Suns in the deciding Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals.

Jordan was just 7-for-19, but one shot, an off-balance leaner over Phoenix's Shawn Marion, was just enough to end a two-game losing streak and give the Wizards (27-23) their first win in Phoenix in 13 years and their first win ever in the 10-year-old arena.

"It feels good," Jordan said. "Let's go back home. We had a couple of games where we played teams that were really playing well. L.A. and Sacramento came out and really taught us a lesson. [Last night] we had to get away with something. We've been on the road for the last three games, and we had to get away with something."

"You know what's interesting?" Washington coach Doug Collins said. "Michael missed the two before that. We had a two-for-one, and he missed it and [Tyrone] Nes [Nesby] stepped in. But Michael doesn't remember that. That's the big thing about Michael. Remember that old commercial about how many he's missed? Michael thinks every one he's going to take, he's going to make. What he does is he gives our team a belief that we have a chance to win those kinds of games."

Washington's Richard Hamilton had 29 points, while Nesby scored 18 off the bench, including a follow-up dunk off a Jordan miss with 16.2 seconds remaining to tie the score at 95.

"I am so proud of Tyrone Nesby," Collins said. "I got with him a month ago, and I said, `Nes, you're a free agent and you're the only natural free agent on our team and if you'll get in shape and play, you'll make us a totally different team.' And he has done that. He made huge shots [last night] and big plays."

Phoenix's Stephon Marbury had a game-high 30 points, hitting one of two free throws with 5.6 seconds left off a questionable foul call on Nesby, who was whistled for a foul 35 feet from the basket.

Marbury, who scored 20 in the first half, had the final four points for the Suns, and eight of Phoenix's last 10 points.

But the night ultimately belonged to Jordan, who had missed his last two shots in the final 42 seconds, but had the temerity to try one more game-winning shot.

"Shawn played me pretty good, especially going to my right," Jordan said. "You know, he's a quick leaper. I think at the end of the game, I had to use my shot fake and get him out of his rhythm. I got a good look at the basket and knocked it down."

"I think some people inherently know what it takes, and most people don't have a clue, and don't want to know because it requires a lot and most people don't want to give a lot," Phoenix coach Scott Skiles said. "The older I get, the more I realize that most people want to eek by and really don't have a lot of competitive fire, and the rare professional sports people like him that do are successful."

On the final play, Popeye Jones inbounded the ball to Jordan near midcourt, with Marion hawking him. Jordan, who had 41 points in the Wizards' 112-102 win over the Suns in Washington last month, waited patiently just inside the three-point circle, then rose and fired the shot. As it dropped through, he pumped his fist and yelled something to the Suns' bench, as Collins and the rest of the Wizards jumped for joy.

"At the end of the game, you know who's going to take the last shot," Marbury said. "Everybody in the building knows. You never want to put yourself in that situation. Unfortunately, we did. [Last night], Michael Jordan was Michael Jordan."

FG FT Reb

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

Jordan 37 7-19 8-9 0-6 4 2 22

Jones 33 2-5 0-0 2-6 4 2 4

White 17 1-3 2-4 1-6 0 2 4

Whitney 14 1-2 0-0 0-1 3 4 3

RHamilton 41 13-24 3-3 0-5 4 1 29

Haywood 12 2-3 0-2 1-3 0 3 4

Laettner 9 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 2 2

Lue 16 2-3 2-2 0-1 3 1 7

Alexander 10 1-4 0-0 0-1 0 0 2

Nesby 29 8-11 2-2 4-10 3 5 18

Davis 22 1-3 0-0 0-2 1 0 2

Totals 240 39-80 17-22 8-41 22 22 97

Percentages: FG .487, FT .773. 3-Point Goals: 2-5, .400 (Whitney 1-1, Lue 1-1, Davis 0-1, Alexander 0-1, Nesby 0-1). Team Rebounds: 8. Blocked Shots: 7 (Jones 3, Jordan 2, White, Nesby). Turnovers: 13 (Jordan 5, R.Hamilton 2, Laettner 2, Nesby 2, Lue, Jones). Steals: 6 (Jordan 2, R.Hamilton, Jones, Nesby, Haywood). Technical fouls: White, 2:42 third; Nesby, 8:30 fourth.

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

Marion 43 4-10 0-0 0-10 5 3 9

Outlaw 27 5-9 1-3 3-5 1 2 11

Tsakalidis 34 2-7 4-6 3-11 0 5 8

Marbury 36 11-20 8-10 3-4 6 2 30

Hardaway 30 3-8 3-3 1-3 7 1 9

Rogers 19 5-8 0-0 1-5 2 5 10

Delk 23 6-14 4-5 0-0 0 1 17

Majerle 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Gugliotta 16 1-4 0-0 0-2 0 0 2

Crispin 7 0-3 0-0 0-0 1 0 0

Totals 240 37-83 20-27 11-40 22 19 96

Percentages: FG .446, FT .741. 3-Point Goals: 2-14, .143 (Marion 1-2, Delk 1-3, Gugliotta 0-1, Rogers 0-2, Marbury 0-3, Crispin 0-3). Team Rebounds: 10. Blocked Shots: 4 (Outlaw, Gugliotta, Tsakalidis, Majerle). Turnovers: 13 (Marion 3, Marbury 2, Hardaway 2, Outlaw, Gugliotta, Rogers, Delk, Tsakalidis, Crispin). Steals: 7 (Marbury 2, Hardaway 2, Marion 2, Rogers). Technical fouls: Coach Skiles, 1:08 first.

Washington 29 24 19 25 - 97

Phoenix 28 26 14 28 - 96

A-19,023 (19,023). T-2:16. Officials-Joe Forte, Jason Phillips, David Jones.

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Houston Rockets

Site: MCI Center, Washington

When: Monday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: CSN/WTEM (980 AM)

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