Jordan injured

Wizards beaten

Raptors rally to win, 89-86, after star leaves before halftime with back spasms

March 05, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - The Washington Wizards, who can ill afford more losses to bad teams, not to mention more injuries to key players, got two for the price of one last night, an 89-86 setback to the Toronto Raptors, as well as another ailment to Michael Jordan.

Jordan, already nursing a sore right quadriceps muscle, twisted his back late in the second quarter and suffered spasms that kept him out the rest of the game.

Jordan left MCI Center without commenting. Coach Doug Collins said he didn't know if Jordan would be available for tonight's home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

"I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that subconsciously, when one leg is sore, you do things off the other leg. ... Your body is compensating for the one injury," Collins said. "I'm sure he'll be in here all day [today] trying to get ready to play. You know he doesn't want to miss."

The loss, which dropped Washington (29-31) one game behind Milwaukee for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot, was nearly overshadowed by Jordan's injury.

For a second straight game, however, the Wizards lost to a second-division team. In this case, they also dropped a second winnable home contest to the Raptors (19-38), the kind of loss that almost certainly will rear its ugly head come mid-April, when the regular season ends.

"We've lost two in a row that we should have won," said forward Charles Oakley, who kicked a sideline table in the second quarter in apparent anger for Collins taking him out of the game. "We're trying to make the playoffs and we get to a high and now we get back to a low. ... We have to take responsibility. We've got enough talent to win. We just have to be man enough to play the game instead of looking for excuses all the time."

The Wizards played poorly throughout, committing 18 turnovers and watching Toronto convert those miscues into 26 points. No turnover was worse than on the final possession, as Jerry Stackhouse (team-high 21 points) lost his handle on the ball with 1.4 seconds left as he attempted a game-tying three-pointer.

On the preceding Washington possession, Stackhouse missed on a drive to the basket, and Brendan Haywood was unable to grab the rebound. Toronto's Vince Carter, who scored a game-high 24 points, was fouled and made two free throws.

In addition, Toronto reserve guard Voshon Lenard lit up Washington for 14 points - all in the fourth quarter, including two three-pointers in the final four minutes.

"We had guys play well," said Stackhouse, who shot 8-for-22. "I'll take responsibility for this one. The ball was in my hand in a situation where we could have went up and taken the lead and won the game. I felt there was a play that I should have made and I didn't make. Everybody else did what they had to do in spite of [Jordan] being out.

"We blew a ton of opportunities. I blew it tonight. Hopefully, I don't tomorrow."

Washington's walking wounded took on more members, as Christian Laettner and Byron Russell were hurt during the same sequence in the third quarter.

Laettner came up hobbling after a rebound, but he continued to play. Russell took a thumb in the eye, left for treatment and returned in the fourth quarter.

"Like I told the guys, there's no sympathy in basketball, and no crying in baseball," Collins said. "[Raptors coach] Lenny Wilkens has had Vince Carter out 50-some games; otherwise, they'd win 50 and be in the playoffs. That's part of a season."

NOTES: Last night's contest was a makeup for the game postponed by snow Feb. 17. ... The Wizards announced that reserve forward Etan Thomas had surgery to repair a fractured orbital bone around his left eye and will miss four to six weeks. Collins said the surgery was more delicate than the club had anticipated, and he said Thomas likely will miss the rest of the season. Thomas, who averaged 4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 38 games this season, was injured Feb. 21 against New Jersey when Nets forward Richard Jefferson struck him with an inadvertent elbow. Thomas, in his third NBA year out of Syracuse after being drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, missed his entire first season with a toe injury.

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