Jordan scores 34 in Wizards' victory

Cassell, Robinson ejected for Bucks

March 30, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - On the day after the hullabaloo about whether he will play next season subsided, Michael Jordan poured in 34 points and played 26 minutes last night, leading the Washington Wizards to an important 107-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at MCI Center.

Combined with Indiana's defeat at Orlando, the playoff-hopeful Wizards moved within 1 1/2 games of the Pacers in the race for the final Eastern Conference berth.

Jordan underwent surgery on his right knee Feb. 27 and has played sparingly - not starting at all - since being re-activated 11 days ago.

This was the breakthrough game for Jordan since he returned from the injury, as Washington capitalized on the exploits of the most famous bench member of the NBA and the Bucks' frustrations with the officials, which led to the second-half ejections of both guard Sam Cassell and forward Glenn Robinson.

"I just came into this game very loose," Jordan said. "And, it was a big game."

Milwaukee was already hampered by the absence of top scorer Ray Allen, who has been battling a stomach virus and tendinitis in his left knee, before its chances were further compromised when Baltimore native Cassell (Dunbar) was tossed by the officials after kicking the ball nearly to the rafters.

The fourth period was not three minutes old before Robinson was also ejected after drawing two consecutive technicals.

But their banishment and Allen's absence were not solely responsible for the outcome. The Wizards - also hurting - played with purpose and resolve from the onset and never trailed after Courtney Alexander hit a jumper for a 19-18 lead.

Coach Doug Collins wasn't pleased with a desultory practice Thursday, and he let the team know about it.

"We weren't really focused, and he let us know about it," said guard Chris Whitney. "The execution wasn't there. It was uncalled for. I don't think that was the reason we played well tonight, but it made us think about it."

Said Collins: "That practice was not acceptable. They heeded what I said. This was a well-deserved win, because we had so many guys play well. We took advantage of a team that was injured and then got frustrated, but they handled us twice before easily, so you have to be happy when you beat a team of this caliber."

Whitney's foul trouble precipitated an earlier-than-usual entrance by Jordan, who made his way into the game with 6:48 remaining in the first period. By the end of the quarter, he had already scored 12 points, supplying a hint that it might be a big night for the legend.

"We had two days off and they played yesterday," said Jordan. "Then, they had a couple guys get frustrated and Sam dropkicked the ball."

Jordan said he doesn't mind playing off the bench; last Wednesday was the first time he had fulfilled that role in 883 NBA games.

"This just gives teams a different look and forces them to make adjustments," he said. "Right now, things are working."

The Wizards played without their leading outside shooter, Tyronn Lue, who has been fighting a sinus infection, and most of the game without center Jahidi White, another virus victim. Richard Hamilton had a recurrence of his painful groin injury, but played on after a re-wrapping.

"I think Washington knew they had to win this game and if we had won it would have taken a lot of hope from them," said Bucks coach George Karl. "With being short-handed and then Sam and Glenn getting ejected, that took our hope away."

NOTE: Two days after he caused a stir by saying he'd be surprised if Jordan plays next season, Collins said he's now been given a gag order on the subject.

"I was told to leave that alone by the organization," said Collins, when asked about at timetable for Jordan's decision. "No more talk of that."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Dallas Mavericks

Site: MCI Center, Washington

When: Tomorrow, 3 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 11, 4/WTEM (980 AM)

FG FT Reb

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

Robinson 30 6-15 2-2 0-5 1 3 16

Mason 38 7-12 2-2 2-10 3 3 16

Przybilla 20 2-3 0-1 1-2 1 1 4

Pope 28 3-7 0-0 1-5 1 4 8

Cassell 23 6-13 6-8 0-1 5 4 18

TThomas 30 3-6 0-0 1-4 4 4 7

Ham 23 3-6 1-2 2-4 0 4 7

Anthony 34 8-17 1-2 3-3 5 3 20

Johnson 10 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0

Alston 4 1-4 0-0 0-1 1 1 2

Totals 240 39-83 12-17 10-35 21 28 98

Percentages: FG .470, FT .706. 3-point goals: 8-22, .364 (Anthony 3-7, Pope 2-3, Robinson 2-4, T.Thomas 1-3, Alston 0-2, Cassell 0-3). Team rebounds: 14. Blocked shots: 6 (Przybilla 3, Robinson, Johnson, T.Thomas). Turnovers: 17 (Robinson 5, Anthony 3, Cassell 3, Ham 2, Pope 2, T.Thomas, Mason). Steals: 7 (Pope 2, Anthony, Cassell, Ham, Przybilla, Mason). Technical fouls: Mason, 5:05 second; Cassell 2, 2.3 third; Robinson 2, 9:25 fourth. Flagrant fouls: Mason, 5:50 third. Ejected: Cassell, 2.3 third; Robinson, 9:25 fourth.

FG FT Reb

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

RHamilton 37 10-18 4-4 1-2 4 2 24

Laettner 26 1-2 1-2 1-5 4 3 3

White 9 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 1 0

Alexander 34 7-16 0-0 1-5 3 1 14

Whitney 26 3-7 3-5 0-3 8 4 9

Jordan 26 12-22 10-12 0-3 1 1 34

Jones 29 4-9 0-0 2-8 3 2 8

Nesby 21 2-8 0-0 2-6 2 1 4

Brown 11 2-4 1-2 1-1 3 1 5

EThomas 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Haywood 19 2-3 2-4 5-7 0 5 6

Totals 240 43-89 21-29 13-42 28 21 107

Percentages: FG .483, FT .724. 3-point goals: 0-6, .000 (R.Hamilton 0-1, Jones 0-1, Whitney 0-4). Team rebounds: 12. Blocked shots: 2 (Laettner, Haywood). Turnovers: 10 (R.Hamilton 3, Nesby 2, Whitney, White, Laettner, Jones, Haywood). Steals: 8 (Whitney 2, Alexander 2, R.Hamilton, Laettner, Jones, Nesby). Technical fouls: None.

Milwaukee 26 26 21 25 - 98

Washington 31 24 32 20 - 107

A-20,674 (20,674). T-2:05. Officials-Steve Javie, Tommy Nunez, Courtney Kirkland.

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