Jordan hurt

Wizards fall, 92-80

Ailing knee may force him on injured list for 5 games

Pro Basketball

February 25, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

MIAMI - For the second time in his legendary career, Michael Jordan may go on the injured list.

Jordan, who missed the last six minutes of the Washington Wizards' 92-80 loss to the Miami Heat last night, said that his knee, which was drained just before game time, may force him to miss Wednesday's home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, as well as take a turn on the injured list, a stay that would last at least five games.

"That [injured list] could be a very strong possibility," said Jordan after the game. "We have to see how I feel the next couple of days and I'll make up my decision off of that. Probably, I will have to sit out a couple of games at least based on the way I feel right now."

Jordan, who had just nine points - the third time in his career that he has scored fewer than 10 points in a game and the second time this season - begged out of the final six minutes of the game, saying that his knee, which forced him to miss a game at Detroit last week, stiffened in the fourth quarter and made him vulnerable on defense.

"I thought the first three quarters, I was able to disguise it a little bit," said Jordan. "No one really noticed the way I was limping and pulling that leg. I felt a little bit like [former Chicago Bulls teammate] Ron Harper. Then, when they started to notice it in the fourth quarter, I became a target. That's when I'm not really helping the team, whenever they start to come at me and I become a vulnerable player. I told [Washington coach] Doug [Collins] that I couldn't make it and to do whatever we could to find someone to step in."

Said Collins: "I feel bad. Michael's out there trying to play on one leg. I could see it. He's so competitive. I called that timeout in the fourth quarter. I asked B.J. [assistant coach Brian James] to find out if Michael wants to come out and he said yes. When he said that, I knew he was hurting."

Jordan, who missed 64 games in the 1985-86 season - his second year in the league - with a broken left foot, shot just 4-for-13 one night after dropping in 37 points, on 13-for-25 shooting, in a loss to the Heat in Washington.

He said the knee ailment, which has been diagnosed as tendinitis is a message of sorts.

"It really gives me an indication that I need to sit it out and rest it and let it really heal," said Jordan. "If I don't play, I'm going to try to still go through practice on Tuesday and then try to play on Wednesday.

"Obviously, this needs a little bit more time than one or two days. Right now, the way it looks I'm going to take some time until it feels a lot better. The team showed a lot [last night] knowing that I wasn't able to do much. Maybe this is the time that we really see what we have with some of the young players and see if that can help us and feed off of that."

The Wizards (27-28) led most of the game until Miami used its mobility and strength to dominate Washington, already crippled with starting power forward Popeye Jones sitting out with a bad elbow.

The Heat (23-31) not only dominated Washington, which lost its fifth straight and seventh of eight since the All-Star break, but only sent the Wizards to the free-throw line three times in the second half, once on a technical foul and the other two coming in the final two minutes.

"I think the Heat got us shell-shocked," said Collins. "They played great defense. They play with force. They're a big, strong powerful team. They bump you, they grab you, they send you through screens and they knock you around. That's the way [Miami coach] Pat [Riley] coached in New York. He knows if they foul 75 times, the referee is only going to call 30 of them."

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Portland Trail Blazers

Site: MCI Center, Washington

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio: CSN/WTEM (980 AM)

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