Jordan climbs

Wizards fall

With 18 points, he moves to No. 3 on scoring list, but Hornets prevail, 103-94

Pro Basketball

January 23, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS - It's hard to consider a place as memorable when you've only been there twice in 21 years, but the Big Easy likely occupies a special spot in Michael Jordan's heart.

It was here, after all, where he first entered the nation's consciousness, hitting a jump shot at the Superdome as a freshman to win the national championship game for North Carolina.

Just across the street from his previous exploits, Jordan got another piece of history last night at New Orleans Arena, hitting a short jumper in the lane with 1:09 remaining in the second quarter to move past Wilt Chamberlain for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

But Jordan's accomplishment and Jerry Stackhouse's return to the lineup were the only good things that happened to the Wizards, who were blitzed by the Hornets, 103-94.

New Orleans ran Washington silly before an ESPN audience, running up a 29-10 advantage in fast-break points. And when the Hornets (23-20) weren't running, they were hurting the Wizards (21-21) inside and outside, as Jamal Mashburn scored 24 points and Baron Davis and David Wesley combined to hit six three-pointers and score 33 points.

"The difference in the game was transition points," said Washington coach Doug Collins. "We knew coming in that fast-breaking was going to be a big problem. They just ran the ball at us. But we hung in there, as we always do.

"Our guys do some pretty good things. But we couldn't sustain anything. We couldn't stop them when we had to. This team here is pretty powerful. They're big, they're fast, they can post and they have depth. They're a real good team."

Stackhouse, who missed four games with a pulled left groin muscle, returned for the first time in more than a week and didn't miss a beat, scoring a game-high 26 points, and leading a fourth-quarter flurry in which the Wizards shaved a 22-point deficit to nine.

"They got in control and we were playing nip and tuck with them and unfortunately we were behind when we started to make our little run," said Stackhouse, who reported no ill effects from his injury.

Jordan, who scored 18 points, trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone on the all-time list, with a career total of 31,424, five ahead of Chamberlain. But he shot 1-for-7 in the second half and failed to get to the free-throw line in 38 minutes.

"Obviously, a milestone is a milestone," Jordan said. "It summarizes the effort I've given throughout my career. Personally, I was not aware of the record. I was more concerned with winning the game.

"Stats define you when you're 10 or 20 years past the game. While you are playing, what matters is wins."

The game was marred by a fight between New Orleans' P.J. Brown and Washington's Charles Oakley as they grappled for a rebound in the final minute of the third quarter.

Carrying over hostilities left from when Brown played in Miami and Oakley in New York, the two scuffled and Brown was called for a flagrant foul, pulling Oakley to the floor before both were ejected for fighting.

Oakley, who made his first start of the season in place of Christian Laettner (stomach virus), appeared to throw a punch at Brown, which, if detected by the league, would cost him at least a one-game suspension.

"I'm trying to do what I can do, whether it's leadership or whatever," Oakley said. "If you've got to fight, you've got to fight. That's part of leadership. It's a battle. They got a lot of easy buckets and a lot of shots and we had turnovers, but we were still in the game."

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Chicago Bulls

Site: United Center, Chicago

When: Tomorrow, 8:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet, ESPN2/WTEM (980 AM)

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