Sunday, January 8, 2012

Washington beats a possibly postseason-bound Clipper squad, boosting their own record to 15-17 to stay in the playoff hunt themselves.

Elton Brand tries in futility to stop Michael Jordan.

by Fred Schiebel, Head Writer
WASHINGTON -- A much better result than last year.

When the Clippers strolled into town during the '00-'01 season, they found themselves on the bad end of an embarrassing whooping by the lowly Wizards. But by the time the final buzzer sounded, hapless Washington had let them back in the game and gift wrapped the victory.

This time it went differently. Michael Jordan, trapped in a suit back then, scored 31 points as the Wizards beat the Clippers 92-84 at the MCI Center Tuesday night.

 To point out the obvious, things have definitely changed.

"That was one of our worst losses last year," he said. "We wanted to prove tonight that we aren't the same team."

They looked like world champs for awhile. Washington began the game with its best start of the season, hitting their first five shots and Jordan sinking his first six. By the six minute mark he already had 13 points, going on to miss only one of ehis ight attempts in the first period. The Wizards followed suit, posting a 78 percent mark from the field to take a commanding 34-20 lead.

"I wish we could bottle that," coach Doug Collins said. "We couldn't miss."

In the second quarter things evened out a bit. Despite holding the Clippers to 29 percent accuracy, the Wizards somehow were worse, shooting only 28 percent. They still took a 46-37 cushion into halfftime, with Jordan leading the way with 18 points, despite cooling off considerably, connecting on a mere one of six shots in the period. He had difficulty getting good looks over his defenders, 6'10" Lamar Odom and the incredibly athletic Darius Miles, who combined to block him three times.

"They have physical advantages that most small forwards don't have," Jordan said. "It took me awhile to adjust when I went inside."

The Wizards upped their lead back to thirteen by the end of the third, 71-58. Jordan again was forced to go to a block party, connecting on only two of seven attempts from the floor. Washington guards Chris Whitney (14 points) and Hubert Davis did most of the damage, as their jumpers began to connect with more regularity.

"We've been off for so long," Whitney said. "We've played only one game in eight days. I'm surprised we weren't more rusty."

Los Angeles began to make its move in the fourth however, with a pogo-sticking Miles offensive rebound and dunk over Jordan narrowing the margin to eight with seven minutes to play. Jordan went to work, connecting on a jumper then getting a steal and delivering a perfect pass to cherrypicking Courtney Alexander. He then faltered a bit, missing his next three shots, but the Clippers couldn't score either.

"I felt our team struggled at the end with fatigue," Collins said. "Long layoffs will do that to you. There's nothing that can replicate being in an actual game."

The Wizards found a way put together a string of baskets, with Jordan's fadeaway baseline jumper over Odom and Clipper center Michael Olawakandi the final dagger, giving Washington an 87-73 advantage with a little over three minutes to play.

Cory Maggette led the Clippers with 23 points. Alexander and Tyronn Lue had 12 points each off Washington's bench.


LA Clippers2017212684

Elton Brand375-130-00-048252510
Lamar Odom345-120-00-024231510
Michael Olowokandi343-100-00-061030316
Corey Maggette319-192-33-505111123
Earl Boykins273-80-01-40142017
Darius Miles143-85-50-035011411
Quentin Richardson00-00-00-00000000
Sean Rooks143-80-00-01401006
Jeff McInnis211-53-30-00142005
Eric Piatkowski173-70-00-10311006
Obinna Ekezie110-00-00-00000000
Percentages: FG - .389, FT - .909, 3PT - .400. Team rebounds: 12. Blocked shots: 9 (E. Brand 2, L. Odom 2, D. Miles 3, J. McInnis 1, S. Rooks 1 ). Technicals: 2 (Defensive Three, Head Coach Gentry).

Popeye Jones330-20-00-01711400
Michael Jordan3512-285-82-505621531
Jahidi White231-21-10-00132113
Hubert Davis236-72-22-215220014
Chris Whitney235-72-32-201421214
Tyrone Nesby131-20-00-00101102
Brendan Haywood250-20-00-00110000
Tyronn Lue255-92-40-212413212
Kwame Brown151-20-00-01400012
Courtney Alexander256-140-00-000212112
Bobby SimmonsDNP - Coach's Decision
Etan ThomasDNP - Coach's Decision
Percentages: FG - .493, FT - .667, 3PT - .545. Team rebounds: 9. Blocked shots: 13 (J. White 2, B. Haywood 8, P. Jones 2, M. Jordan 1). Technicals: 1 (Defensive Three).

Officials: Greg Willard, Tim Donaghy, Leon Wood.
Attendance: 20,674. Time: 2:06.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Jordan scores 29 points in 29 minutes, blowing out his former team in the Wizards' easiest outing of the season.
Michael Jordan directs his teammates against the enemy Bulls.

by Fred Schiebel, Head Writer
WASHINGTON -- The taste must be sweet.

Michael Jordan exacted a fair amount of revenge against Jerry Krause's Chicago Bulls Friday night -- you know, the team that the general manager was so anxious to field he did everything he could to chase that legendary championship squad out of town -- demolishing them in a 97-68 romp in his new home at the MCI Center Friday night.

The victory achieved a personal goal for Jordan, who spoke of how he'd like to get the long-struggling Wizards above the level of the Bulls, the league's worst team since Jordan departed in 1998.

The mission seems already achieved. The Wizards (14-17) are in the playoff race and appear to be improving. Meanwhile the Bulls (7-24) are again at the bottom of the standings and are 0-17 on the road, the only NBA team yet to win away from home.

"This is special in a sense that we're trying to claw our way out of the basement of losing teams," Jordan said, who scored 29 points. "If we have to step on other people to move up, then that's what we do.

"That's the importance of it more than anything. I like to think that we're moving in the right direction and Chicago may not be moving in the right direction, and I don't want to be compared with them. I want to show some separation."

Things didn't start according to plan however. A mere four minutes into the first quarter, Jordan was charged with his second personal foul. He had already hit two jumpers, but remained in the game for an extra minute, sinking a three pointer and having a drive to the basket goaltended. After he took a seat, Washington hardly noticed his absence, finishing the period up 27-14 and holding the Bulls to a sad 19 percent field goal percentage.

"I liked how we came out of the gate tonight," Wizards coach Doug Collins. "Our defensive energy fueled our offense."

Jordan checked in earlier than usual to start the second period, scoring ten points to finish with 19 for the half (9-16FGs), leading the Wizards to a 49-33 advantage by the break. The Bulls almost doubled their shooting mark from the floor in the quarter, posting a still putrid 35 percent mark.

"We could've built a house tonight from all the bricks we threw up tonight," said Bulls coach Bill Cartwright, who recently took over for coach Tim Floyd who resigned December 24th. "You have to at least make a few to be competitive."

Washington broke the game completely wide open in the third, led by Jordan, who pumped in another ten points with ease -- despite being guarded by Ron Artest (who broke Jordan's ribs during workouts in the summer), widely regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league. Staying in the game a little longer than he would normally, Jordan's final shot of the evening, a fadeaway swish from the free throw line over Marcus Fizer with the shot clock buzzer sounding -- upped Washington's advantage to 81-52 going into the fourth quarter. There was no need for him to even consider a return.

Artest finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Bulls center Brad Miller had 15 points and 9 rebounds, and Trenton Hassell scored 11 points off Chicago's bench.

"It was good to get an easy win," Collins said. "Hopefully a few more come our way this year."

He might have to blow up a locker room or two to find a team that plays as badly as the Windy City's heirs to the throne.



Ron Artest425-147-82-2410123119
Charles Oakley320-20-00-01802120
Brad Miller315-165-60-049330515
Greg Anthony311-80-01-50171053
Ron Mercer345-147-82-214110119
Trenton Hassell145-140-01-400001111
Eddy Curry173-40-00-00310026
A.J. Guyton00-00-00-00000000
Fred Hoiberg00-00-00-00000000
Tyson Chandler30-00-00-00010100
Marcus Fizer211-50-00-02802012
Kevin Ollie170-12-20-00230022
Percentages: FG - .308, FT - .889, 3PT - .308. Team rebounds: 13. Blocked shots: 9 (R. Artest 1, R. Mercer 1, B. Miller 1, C. Oakley 2, G. Anthony 2, M. Fizer 1, E. Curry 1). Technicals: 1 (Defensive Three).

Popeye Jones242-31-10-00521015
Michael Jordan2914-260-11-104233629
Jahidi White231-20-00-02811112
Hubert Davis246-132-23-501220117
Chris Whitney235-90-02-302803112
Tyrone Nesby104-61-11-115211110
Brendan Haywood200-11-20-01831101
Tyronn Lue264-110-02-312525210
Bobby Simmons90-20-00-00102110
Kwame Brown242-90-00-02810014
Courtney Alexander243-101-10-10211207
Etan Thomas60-00-00-02210000
Percentages: FG - .446, FT - .750, 3PT - .643. Team rebounds: 5. Blocked shots: 6 (C. Alexander 1, B. Haywood 1).

Officials: Don Vaden, Joe Derosa, Dee Kantner.
Attendance: 20,674. Time: 2:08.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Left in the dust in the final period, the Wizards fall back down to four games under .500; Jordan embarrassed in crunch time.

Michael Jordan skies for a putback before Kerry Kittles can catch up.
by Fred Schiebel, Head Writer

WASHINGTON -- It was all a mirage.

For three quarters of a game, it looked like the Wizards had the stuff. THE stuff, as in the ability to compete with the beasts of the East. There they were, standing toe-to-toe with the New Jersey Nets, one of the upper echelon teams in the Eastern conference, threatening to end up being one of the few teams to beat them this year.

All those hopes and dreams crashed right through the floor of the MCI Center by the final buzzer however, as Washington was dismantled in the fourth quarter in front of its home crowd 97-82 Monday night. Michael Jordan had what would appear to be another solid game, scoring 30 points, but he turned the ball over eight times, and suffered through possibly his worst performance in the clutch of his career.

"I'd put this loss on me," he said afterwards. "I have no problem admitting my mistakes. I stunk up the joint tonight."

Washington headed into the final twelve minutes in excellent shape against its formidable opponent. Tied 68-68, the bottom then quickly fell out of the offense, as the Washington reserves went 0 for 7 from the field. Nevertheless, they were only down five at that point. Jordan checked back in early, hoping to turn the tide.

Instead he turned the ball over three times, got blocked on three of his field goal attempts (a possible fourth was called for offensive goaltending), and went 2 for 7 from the floor, socring only four points as New Jersey continued to pummel the team at a time when they needed him most.

"Boy, that was ugly," a Wizards season ticketholder said after the game. "I've been a big fan of his for years too, and I was beyond thrilled when I heard he was going to play for us. But sometimes... I wish he hadn't. He definitely struggles a lot more at times than he used to, back in the day. It can be tough to watch."

Perhaps he's just trying to blend in with his new squad. The Wizards shot a lowly 28 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, as the Nets woke up and blasted past Washington, outscoring them 29-14 in the period.

"They were just trying to conserve their energy, like a lot of teams do," Doug Collins said. "Keep the score as close as you can without exerting yourself too much, then turn it on at the end. They put it in another gear that we couldn't compete with.

Keith Van Horn had a monster game, scoring 25 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Jason Kidd, the differencemaker this year that transformed the Nets from cellar dweller to contender overnight after being traded for Stephon Marbury, scored 22 points while still distributing eight assists. Rookie Richard Jefferson scored 14 points off the bench.

The Wizards lept out to control the game at the outset, coming out of the first quarter up 25-20, then upping their cushion to nine by halftime, 51-42. They shot 48 percent from the field, and held the Nets to a 42 percent mark. Jordan had 16 points by the break (5-9FGs), while Hubert Davis had 12 (finishing with 18 points and a startling team-high 10 rebounds).

Did any pain or injury figure into His Airness's swan dive in the fourth?

"No, my knees are feeling good," said the 38-year-old Jordan, who has been battling tendinitis all season. "I'm feeling a lot better. Once I get in a rhythm, I can get it going, so I think that'll keep all these old-player conversations down a little bit."

Which might not have been the answer many had been hoping for.


New Jersey2022262997

Kenyon Martin415-111-10-026133211
Keith Van Horn339-166-61-1717340225
Todd MacCulloch272-42-20-02523006
Jason Kidd4010-162-20-111813610
Kerry Kittles213-120-00-32310206
Aaron Williams250-10-00-01511000
Richard Jefferson266-132-20-017123114
Lucious Harris194-100-01-21110029
Jason Collins20-00-00-00000000
Derrick Dial10-00-00-00000000
Brandon Armstrong00-00-00-00000000
Steve Goodrich00-00-00-00000000
Percentages: FG - .471, FT - 1.000, 3PT - .286. Team rebounds: 9. Blocked shots: 11 (K. Martin 6, J. Collins 1, K. Kittles 1, A. Williams 1, L. Hariis 1). Technicals: 1 (K. Martin 1).

Popeye Jones311-40-00-03634022
Michael Jordan3612-266-90-125422830
Jahidi White271-40-10-01611112
Hubert Davis326-163-43-8410203118
Chris Whitney286-90-01-200301213
Brendan Haywood211-20-00-01421012
Tyronn Lue201-50-00-10130412
Etan Thomas00-00-00-00000000
Tyrone Nesby121-70-01-11101002
Kwame Brown171-30-00-02521002
Courtney Alexander164-100-00-00114118
Bobby SimmonsDNP - Coach's Decision
Percentages: FG - .395, FT - .643, 3PT - .357. Team rebounds: 8. Blocked shots: 3 (P. Jones 1, M. Jordan 1, H. Davis 1).

Officials: Steve Javie, Sean Corbin, Derek Collins.
Attendance: 20,674. Time: 1:59.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Three days later Jordan opts not to go for 50+ again in rematch against the Hornets, instead scoring 34 while still dishing out 12 assists to lead Washington to another victory, 98-94.
Michael Jordan still gets a little air as he drives to the hoop.
by Fred Schiebel, Head Writer
WASHINGTON -- It's perhaps a legitamite question to ask: Was this performance even better than the last jawdropping display he wowed us with?

Michael Jordan put on another spectacular show Saturday night in the Wizards 98-94 victory over the visiting Charlotte Hornets, albeit with a different emphasis than the previous one.  His point total wasn't as gargantuan as the 51 he scored against the Hornets only three nights ago -- this time out he only collected 34 -- but in this outing he also racked up 12 assists. Again, in only 36 minutes.

Which stat line is more impreesive?

"How many assists did he have that game, three?" coach Doug Collins asked. "So he directly had his fingerprints on 57 points for us in Charlotte, 58 points here. So I would say it's a close call. All I know is he's blowing my mind."

How on earth is he doing it, at this advanced age?

"The same way he did all those things back in his prime, actually," coach Doug Collins said. "Sheer iron will."

"We're down two starters," Jordan said. "So all I'm doing is trying to maximize everything I can do on the court as much as possible, and what my teammates can do as well."

The Wizards controlled the game early on, getting out to a 25-21 advantage by the end of the first quarter, then increasing it to six by halftime, 49-43. Hubert Davis led the way with 18 points, 11 of those coming in the opening period, mostly due to his hitting three out of his four shots from behind the arc. Jordan had 15 points at the break as well (7-16FGs), but the real MVP may have been Washington's defense, which held the Hornets to 39 percent from the field.

"We were really moving together well as a unit," Jordan said. "Our cohesiveness is growing better and better, game after game."

It was not a relaxing cruise to victory from there however, as the Hornets broke free of the defensive shackles in the third. Led by Elden Campbell's ten points in the period, the Hornets hit 58 percent of their shots to take a one point lead into the final twelve minutes, 73-72. Jordan's shooting eye faltered, connecting on only three of nine attempts, but Hubert Davis (28 points in 31 minutes) kept Washington close with ten more points of his own.

"Hube has been fantastic for us," Colllins said. "There's been literally no dropoff offensively since Rip [starting shooting guard Richard Hamilton] went down, and I'd be surprised if there was any difference on the other end of the court either."

The Hornets upped their cushion to 85-81 with seven minutes to go. But Jordan took over, finding Courtney Alexander on a pass down low, getting a steal, then on a fastbreak converting the layup and the free throw after getting fouled, capping a Washington 9-0 run that put them back in the driver's seat with 4:28 to play, 90-85.

The Wizards soon extended the lead to 98-89, after which both teams went cold and struggled to score. A swishing Baron Davis three jangled everyone in the MCI Center's nerves, narrowing the gap to four with 49.2 seconds remaining. Alexander missed three shots in a row, but Washington's defense held serve -- until Hornets three point ace David Wesley was left all by himself in the left corner.

Luckily, he missed too. Tyronn Lue came down and clanged a jumper, but Jordan swept in to snag the offensive rebound and the assured victory.

Baron Davis led the Hornets with 24 points and seven assists. Charlotte had three starters who finished with double-doubles -- Elden Campbell (16 points, 15 rebounds), Lee Nailon (13 points, 10 rebounds, and PJ Brown (12 points, 12 rebounds)

"They're a hard-nosed team, I was pleased with how we competed and matched their intensity," Jordan said. "They got a real tough front line."

Not tough enough.