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Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

Forward shrugs off bad knee, scores 18 vs. Rockets

December 7, 2001

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— Michael Jordan needed a little time to get warmed up after missing a game because of a sore knee.

Jordan scored 10 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Washington Wizards to an 85-82 victory over Houston on Thursday night, the Rockets' eighth straight loss.

"I haven't touched a ball in about five days," Jordan said. "It took me three quarters to find a rhythm. But I'm just glad I was able to help the team in the fourth quarter."

Jordan missed Tuesday night's game at San Antonio with a right knee injury, the first game he missed because of injury since March 5, 1993. He received a big ovation when he was introduced with the Wizards' starting lineup.

Jordan was at his best in the fourth quarter, hitting five baskets down the stretch, including a driving reverse layup that gave Washington a 66-62 lead with 9:07 to play. Moments later, he hit a 12-foot turnaround jumper to make it 68-63.

"I felt good. I wasn't trying to overextend myself," Jordan said. "My wind was a question, but Doug (Collins) was very adamant about keeping my minutes down."

Collins held Jordan to 33 minutes of playing time.

"I wanted him to play between 30 and 33 minutes," Collins said. "We were hoping that we could keep the game in a good situation so when Michael came in in the fourth quarter he could do the things he does. He struggled with his shot the first three quarters, but when it counted, he was in a good rhythm."

Richard Hamilton led the Wizards with 24 points. Popeye Jones had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Cuttino Mobley led Houston with 25 points, one point short of his season high. Kelvin Cato added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Rockets led 40-38 at the half. Hamilton scored 10 points in the third quarter, and Jones added a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left in the period to give the Wizards a 60-58 lead.

Mobley had 11 points in the first quarter and finished the half with 17. Mobley snapped a 38-all tie with a pair of free throws with 59 seconds left in the second quarter.

Jordan worked out with the Wizards in Houston on Wednesday but still wasn't sure he'd be able to play in Thursday night's game.

On Monday, Jordan had fluid drained from his knee for the second time this season. An MRI exam showed no serious damage. He hyperextended the knee during preseason and it has been consistently sore and swollen.

"He's still a great player. I don't know why he's still playing, though," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.

"He's a good golfer and a good sandlot baseball player, so I don't know what the heck he's doing messing with us.

"He's probably the only one who could do what he's doing."

Timberwolves 105,

Grizzlies 80

Memphis, Tenn. A return to the basics netted immediate results for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Terrell Brandon had 22 points and 10 assists, and Kevin Garnett added 20 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves. Minnesota built a 21-point lead at the half and went on to snap a four-game road losing streak.

"We came out and we got back to doing some of the things we were doing before," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We played basic basketball, defended well, and rebounded extremely well."

Rasho Nesterovic and Wally Szczerbiak each added 14 points for the Timberwolves.

Pau Gasol led Memphis with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Jason Williams scored 11 points on 5-for-15 shooting as the Grizzlies absorbed their second straight lopsided loss. Memphis lost by 42 points in Orlando on Monday night.

"Minnesota is the best executing team in the NBA," Memphis coach Sidney Lowe said. "I warned my team of that. They have a star in Garnett, and they have a star in Brandon. They also have an emerging star in Szczerbiak."

Minnesota capitalized on the absence of Memphis center Lorenzen Wright. The Grizzlies' leading rebounder was placed on the injured list Thursday with a non-displaced fracture just below the left knee.

"We prepared with Wright and without Wright," Garnett said. "It didn't matter much. The thing we wanted to do was be aggressive and try to take some things away from them. We focus on us. We're not really focused on the opposition."

Garnett, Brandon and Nesterovic each scored 12 points in the first half as Minnesota built a 58-37 halftime lead and was never threatened.

Bucks 95, Raptors 89

Milwaukee Ray Allen scored 30 points and Sam Cassell added 23 as the Milwaukee Bucks snapped a five-game losing streak.

Allen and Cassell, who shot a combined 8-for-36 in a loss to New York on Tuesday night, improved against Toronto. Allen shot 12-for-22 and Cassell went 11-for-16.

Glenn Robinson and Tim Thomas each scored 13 for the Bucks, who were without coach George Karl.

Vince Carter scored 26 points, Keon Clark 18 and Alvin Williams 16 for the Raptors.

The Bucks scored the first seven points of the third quarter to push their lead to 53-39. The Raptors closed within seven points midway through the period, before Milwaukee used an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach.

Thomas scored on a drive and then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Bucks a 72-54 lead with 2:59 left in the third.

The Raptors cut into an 11-point deficit with a 9-4 run. Keon Clark scored six straight points and Carter added a 3-pointer to make it 85-78 with 5:20 left.

Hornets 95,

Trail Blazers 89

Portland, Ore. Lee Nailon scored a career-high 26 points and Baron Davis had 22 points and 12 assists as the Charlotte Hornets ended a three-game losing streak.

Rasheed Wallace led the Blazers with 18 points, but his technical foul sparked the Hornets to a decisive 20-10 run over the final 7:22 of the third quarter.

Portland cut the deficit from 17 to five when Ruben Patterson made a layup on a goaltending call with 1:07 left. But the Blazers couldn't get any closer.

David Wesley had 18 points for Charlotte, and P.J. Brown had 14 rebounds. Nailon added a career-high 11 rebounds.

Nailon, filling in for injured Jamal Mashburn, entered the game averaging 9.7 points, but the second-year guard scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a reverse layup, 22-foot jumper and a free throw that pushed the lead from six to 88-79 with 2:22 left.

Scottie Pippen started his first game since Nov. 13 for the Blazers and had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Portland, which lost its second straight, fell to 9-9, tied for fourth place in the Pacific Division with the Los Angeles Clippers. Both are 71*2 games behind the first-place Lakers.

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