Hawks slip past Wizards

Jordan's 20-footer late misses in 101-100 defeat

Pro Basketball

April 13, 2003|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - It took 15 years and 1,070 games into a legendary career for Michael Jordan to get a taste of what NBA life is like in cities like Cleveland, Denver and Atlanta after Jan. 1, when the games have little or no meaning.

But that didn't stop Jordan from playing all out and with his customary passion. His Washington Wizards teammates, however, didn't match Jordan's fire, and let the Hawks escape with a 101-100 win at MCI Center last night.

Jordan was supposedly only going to play 20-22 minutes, as Washington coach Doug Collins said before the game, but with the game on the line, who else would have his hands on the ball?

"I want to play to win," Jordan said. "I want to be there when the choice is for us to try to win the game. He was going to mind me to my minutes and I only played 30 minutes. We had a good chance to win the game and we didn't fulfill it."

Jordan had 17 points, including a jumper with 17.8 seconds left that gave Washington a one-point lead, but, as has often been the case, the Wizards (37-43) failed to pay attention to details and let the victory slip through their fingers.

Atlanta's Ira Newble slammed home a follow shot with eight seconds left after Jason Terry missed a 19-foot jumper. Newble, who had a career-high 21 points, slipped past the Washington front line for a dunk, then successfully defended Jordan on his final attempt, a 20-footer from the top of the key, with about three seconds left. The rebound was batted out to Jordan, but time ran out.

"As soon as I slammed it, I looked up at the clock to see how much time there was, because I knew they were going to come to him [Jordan] again," said Newble, who was dubbed the "Jordan stopper" by teammate Darvin Ham.

When apprised of Newble's new nickname, Jordan laughed and said, "He can say that. We won't see him again, so he can say whatever he wants."

The Wizards, who were officially eliminated from playoff contention the night before, struggled against the Hawks for large stretches until the third quarter, when they used a 12-2 run to take a six-point lead with six minutes left in the period.

However, Atlanta (34-46) responded with a 20-8 spurt to take a six-point lead into the fourth period.

"[Friday night] was a huge letdown in terms of knowing that we can't get into the postseason, but I was happy because our guys fought back," said Collins. "In the first half, we didn't play any defense at all. Then in the last five or six minutes of the game, we did a good job. There was a stretch in the third quarter where we did a good job, too."

Earlier in the day, Jordan teamed with Wizards assistant coach Patrick Ewing to present John Bach, another Washington assistant, with a brand new Rolls-Royce. Bach, who will retire after Wednesday with more than 50 years in basketball, was an assistant in Chicago.

"I guess as an old-timer, I hoped that someday I could get a used, old Rolls Royce," Bach said. "I said, `I don't want these fancy sports cars.' Between Patrick and Michael, they make a lot of people's dreams come true. I'm very happy. I can't tell you how happy."

NOTES: Matt Doherty, who was forced to resign two weeks ago as North Carolina's men's basketball coach, was in attendance. Doherty and Jordan were teammates in 1982, when the Tar Heels won the NCAA title, and remain close friends. ... The Wizards honored two U.S. soldiers who have returned from the Iraq war. Army Staff Sgt. Tarik Jackson of the 507th Ambush Group and Army Specialist Jason Poudrier were given standing ovations during the fourth quarter.

Next for Wizards

Opponent:New York Knicks

Site:MCI Center, Washington

When:Tomorrow, 7 p.m.

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

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