Wizards cash in at foul line

Pro Basketball

January 12, 2003|By MILTON KENT | MILTON KENT,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- Michael Jordan has had some storied games at Madison Square Garden, which New Yorkers fancy as the world's most famous arena.

Last night's game was not one of them, particularly when he blew three layups and threw away an inbounds pass all in the final 2:30, when he is usually money in the bank.

But, Jerry Stackhouse and Charles Oakley, a former Garden denizen, bailed out Jordan to nudge the Washington Wizards past the New York Knicks, 89-84, before a sellout crowd.

Oakley, who played 10 seasons in New York, had four free throws in the final 34 seconds and pulled down the decisive rebound with 4.1 seconds remaining; Stackhouse had four free throws in the last 17.1 seconds and stole the inbounds pass with 1.8 seconds left.

Jordan still had a team-high 23 points -- eight in the fourth quarter -- along with 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who had their season-high five-game win streak end the night before against Golden State at MCI Center. Washington won its seventh game in eight outings.

But Jordan blew two layups on one sequence with 2:40 left, missed a third with less than two minutes to go and then threw away an inbound pass with 34 seconds remaining, giving the Knicks new life.

And New York (13-21) made the most of it, as Howard Eisley buried a three-pointer from right in front of the Washington bench to give New York an 84-83 lead with 21.9 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Stackhouse was fouled driving to the basket and converted both free throws for two of his 22 points to give Washington (19-18) a one- point lead.

Allan Houston, meanwhile, saw a 20-foot jumper go halfway down the basket and come out on New York's next possession and the Knicks quickly fouled Oakley, who made two more free throws. Then Stackhouse stole the long inbounds attempt with 1.8 seconds left and made two free throws to seal the game.

New York was fresh off Friday's two-point road win over Philadelphia in which it hit a team-record 16 three-pointers. But, the Knicks came out flat, hitting just two of their first 15 shots, and five of their first 20.

The Wizards were hardly blazing, however, as they squandered a 10-4 early lead by shooting just 33 percent in the first quarter. Jordan, who was battling a sinus ailment, had 10 points, including six consecutive points in Washington's initial burst and a rare dunk with 2:10 left in the quarter.

"Chicago was an emotional game and he fought through that," said Washington coach Doug Collins before the game. Friday night "he played 41 minutes, so hopefully we can find a way to get him some rest so he can be strong enough to help us down the stretch. New York's playing good and they have big guards."

But the Knicks regrouped late in the period as Charlie Ward hit a three-pointer and Houston sank a 10-footer just before the buzzer to slice the Washington lead to 21-19.

The Knicks got hot and outscored Washington 8-4 in the first 4M-= minutes of the second quarter to take a 27-25 lead. But Kwame Brown followed up a miss with a spectacular put-back dunk, then Stackhouse, who was scoreless in the first, hit a three-pointer to give the Wizards a 30-27 lead.

Stackhouse's banker -- two of his nine second-quarter points -- with 45 seconds remaining, followed by a drive from Tyronn Lue with eight seconds left, gave Washington a 43-37 lead.

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