Jordan, Wizards open fast, close out Magic

Hughes, Haywood help Washington win, 108-93

Pro Basketball

January 17, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Three nights ago, the Washington Wizards couldn't even beat a Toronto Raptors team that had only eight healthy players, three on 10-day contracts. So how in the world could they have been expected to beat the Orlando Magic last night?

In a season filled with unpredictability, the Wizards did the unpredictable, turning back the Magic, 108-93, last night at MCI Center.

The Wizards (20-19) used 28 first-half points from Michael Jordan to get things started, then turned to an inside-outside combination of Larry Hughes and Brendan Haywood to finish off Orlando (20-21).

Hughes had 16 of his 22 points in the second half, along with seven rebounds and seven assists, and Haywood scored 16 points, 12 after halftime, to give Washington its first win since leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse went out Tuesday with a left groin pull.

Jordan, who had 20 points in the first quarter and finished with 32 along with eight assists and six rebounds, cooled considerably after halftime, hitting just 2-of-7 shots in the second half.

The Magic, which won 12 of its previous 15 against Washington, took advantage, erasing what had been a 16-point Wizards lead and gaining a 58-58 tie.

But Washington started the fourth quarter with a 16-3 run. Hughes and Haywood each scored five in the spurt as the Wizards ran their record to 14-0 when they score 100 or more points - a league best.

Orlando's Tracy McGrady had 31 points, six rebounds and five assists. Grant Hill, hobbled all season with left-ankle problems, started but left in the second quarter with more ankle pain.

As Collins pointed out before the game, Stackhouse's injury came at a juncture that had the Wizards putting together their best sustained play all season, a string with five straight victories and six in seven games.

The high-scoring forward will be evaluated by a doctor tomorrow and, Collins said, depending on the verdict could miss as little as two games or as much as four weeks.

"The thing about this business is, it's so fragile." said Collins. "We're playing our best basketball and Jerry gets hurt, and we have four home games. That makes it tough. But every team goes through this.

"What you have to do, and it's hard, is add them up after 82. If you don't, then the little segments of the season, where there are injuries or you hit a bump in the road, can become a real roller-coaster ride - and you have to stay away from those as much as you can. I feel badly right now, because we were really starting to play well. You can look at it that we've lost two of the last three or we've won six of the last eight. Which picture do you want to see?"

The picture the Wizards got in the first quarter was of the Jordan of old, as opposed to the old Jordan. He started with six points in the first four minutes but exploded later in the period, hitting nine straight points in two minutes.

Mike Miller's three-pointer - one of four by Orlando in the first - got the Magic to within 10 at 31-21 with 1:56 remaining. But Jordan scored five of Washington's next seven points, and the Wizards led 38-22 after the first period.

The team's 38 points and Jordan's 20 were team highs for any Wizards quarter this season.

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