Wizards come up short on takeoff

Toronto takes advantage of Jordan's missed dunk, inept offense in 74-68 win

Brown: career-high 18 rebounds

Washington's 24 field goals tie team mark for fewest in game

`we had no zip'

October 31, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - On the ride from the hotel to Air Canada Centre last night, the wife of Washington Wizards coach Doug Collins called to ask if he thought Michael Jordan had one more 50-point performance in him.

Jordan didn't even have a 10-point game in him, and he didn't have enough spring in his legs for a fourth-quarter dunk. Meanwhile, his teammates didn't have enough offense to avoid a 74-68 season-opening loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The 68 points were the third-lowest point total in franchise history, while the 24 field goals tied a franchise record for fewest baskets made in a game in the 41-year history of the franchise, covering its days in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington.

So much for the revamped offense.

"The ball just stuck," Collins said. "We were just very impatient, which I think is just jitters, guys just wanting to do well. The one thing I never felt like was that we would be a team that would have trouble scoring. We had no zip."

"Everybody was fumbling the ball and missing opportunities," said Jordan, who finished with eight points on 4-for-14 shooting. "It was one of those games that was pretty ugly for both sides."

Remarkably, the Wizards were within four points of the Raptors with 10 seconds to go, thanks in no small part to Toronto going scoreless for 2:30 in the fourth quarter.

"We were out of sync for most of the game, but we did some good things, too," said guard Jerry Stackhouse, who made his Washington debut with a team-high 19 points. "We held a team like that, that likes to get out and run and put points on the board, to only 70 points. We did a good job defensively, but we never got into any flow offensively."

Second-year forward Kwame Brown, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, had 12 points along with a career-high 18 rebounds, notching a double double before halftime. He also blocked five shots.

"We'll be better," Brown said. "As we got down, we got stagnant and we started holding the ball and trying to do it on our own. But we have a good coach. We'll go in and start working on it [today] and just clean out some of the cobwebs."

Jordan, in his new role coming off the bench, badly misfired in 25 minutes. His most ignominious moment came with 3:55 left. With only the basket in front of him, he rose for a dunk that rolled around and out of the rim.

Missing 22 games last season with knee ailments, Jordan entered for the first time at the 3:50 mark of the first quarter, and promptly proceeded to pick off a Morris Peterson pass, and attempted to feed Stackhouse for a layup. But he led Stackhouse too far and the former Detroit Pistons guard was called for traveling.

"I felt fine," Jordan said. "I didn't have any flare-up with the knee. I'm sure everybody's going to look at the dunk. I felt like I exploded pretty good, but I still should have finished it. Other than that, I felt fine."

The Wizards shot a dismal 25 percent for the first quarter, but they were hardly done laying bricks in the first half. The poor shooting continued into the second quarter, as they missed 11 straight shots from the field after Jordan hit a 15-footer 30 seconds into the period. The drought of baskets extended for six more minutes, until Stackhouse hit a layup.

In the process, Toronto put distance on Washington with a 14-0 run that extended a four-point Raptors lead to 34-16. But all of Jordan's eight points came in the quarter, helping the Wizards cut the deficit to eight at halftime.

Washington would sporadically threaten the Raptors, but Voshon Lenard's two free throws with 9.4 seconds left clinched the outcome. Peterson had a game-high 20 points for Toronto, and Vince Carter added 18.

The Wizards open their home schedule tonight at MCI Center against the Boston Celtics.

Wizards tonight

Opponent: Boston Celtics

Site: MCI Center, Washington

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: TNT/WTEM (980 AM)

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