Jordan climbs

Wizards fall

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

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

NEW ORLEANS - The Big Easy has always been a memorable place for Michael Jordan despite his infrequent visits. It was here, after all, where he first entered the nation's consciousness, hitting a jumper at the Superdome as a freshman to win the national championship for North Carolina.

Nearly 21 years later and just across the street, Jordan got another piece of history last night at New Orleans Arena, making 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, as they were blitzed by the Hornets, 103-94.

"Obviously, a milestone is a milestone," Jordan said. "It summarizes the efforts 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're playing, what matters is wins."

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 33 points.

"The difference in the game was transition points," said Wizards 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."

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 New Orleans lead down to nine.

"That's a tough team to get down on and try to come back," Stackhouse said. "We fought and had a lot of effort, but we have to be a little sharper and not let the game get away the way we did.

"I felt good. It [injury] didn't bother me at all, but the big test will be in the morning."

Jordan, who scored 18 points, trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone on the all-time scoring list, with a career total of 31,424 points, 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.

The game was marred by a fight between New Orleans' P.J. Brown and Washington's Charles Oakley as they grappled for a rebound late in 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, as he pulled Oakley to the floor before both were ejected for fighting. In the scrum, Oakley appeared to throw a punch, which, if detected by the league, would cost him at least a one-game suspension.

"If you've got to fight, you've got to fight," Oakley said. "That's part of leadership. It's a battle."

NOTE: The Wizards were forced to play without starting forward Christian Laettner, who sat out with a stomach virus. Laettner, who had four points in 26 minutes in Monday's win over Denver, was a late scratch. He reported feeling poorly during the morning shoot-around, appeared to feel better later in the day, but told the team's medical staff that he had been unable to hold down any food during the afternoon.

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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