Washington Michael Jordan got a burst of youth from his own children.
Jordan's sons were in town for the holidays Friday, and he smiled and laughed as he watched them play assistant general manager Rod Higgins' sons on the Washington Wizards' practice court for than an hour around midday.
Then, right before Friday night's tipoff against the Milwaukee Bucks, Jordan told coach Doug Collins: "Don't be afraid to put me in soon. I feel good."
Jordan went on have his best game since his knee surgery, scoring 34 points on 12-for-22 shooting in 26 minutes as the Wizards moved into a tie for ninth place in the Eastern Conference with a 107-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
"It's always good to see your kids, even though they call you old," said Jordan, who also made 10 of 12 free throws. "It was fun hanging out with them today. I just felt good all day. I came into the game loose. I felt the best I've felt since coming back."
The Bucks, already without flu-stricken Ray Allen, finished the game without starters Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson, who were ejected in the second half. Cassell punted the ball off the scoreboard and into the crowd after he was called for an offensive foul late in the third quarter. Robinson was assessed back-to-back technicals for arguing a call early in the fourth.
"Being shorthanded, and with Sam and Glenn doing whatever they did, that just took our hope away from the game," Milwaukee coach George Karl said. "Frustration comes in a lot of packages, and tonight we showed our frustration."
Jordan had his best scoring night since he had 37 against Miami on Feb. 23, four days before the right knee surgery that caused him to miss 12 games. It was the first game in which he made more than half his shots since Jan. 24, when he was 18-for-29 against Cleveland.
SuperSonics 79, Spurs 76
Seattle Â Gary Payton had 19 points and eight assists as Seattle beat San Antonio for its sixth victory in seven games. It was the second straight loss for the Spurs after a league-best 13-game winning streak. They fell one game behind Dallas in the race for first place in the Midwest Division.
Clippers 96, Suns 94
Phoenix Â Jeff McInnis sank a 20-footer at the buzzer to give Los Angeles a victory over Phoenix. Stephon Marbury's three-pointer with three seconds to play had tied it at 94. The Clippers called a time-out, then got the ball to McInnis, whose jumper from the right of the foul lane hit nothing but net to snap Los Angeles' three-game losing streak.
Magic 114, Pacers 106
Orlando, Fla. Â Tracy McGrady had 29 points and nine rebounds against the short-handed Pacers. Monty Williams added 19 points, a season high, and 10 rebounds for his third double-double in four games. Mike Miller had 15 points and six assists in his return from an ankle sprain and bone bruise.
Pistons 110, Warriors 103
Auburn Hills, Mich. Â Jerry Stackhouse scored 21 points and five other Detroit players scored in double figures as the Pistons beat Golden State. Detroit, which has won seven of nine, extended its lead over the Milwaukee Bucks to 41Â¼2 games in the Central Division.
Mavericks 108, Celtics 82
Boston Â The Mavericks reached their 50th win at the earliest point in team history. Michael Finley scored 24 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 18 as Dallas improved to 50-22.
Heat 92, Hawks 80
Miami Â Eddie Jones, coming off one of his worst games, scored 16 points as the Heat snapped a four-game losing streak. Miami, which had lost three straight home games and six of eight overall, also got 15 points apiece from Brian Grant and Chris Gatling. Jason Terry scored 23 points and Shareef Abdur-Rahim 19 for Atlanta.
Kings 92, Hornets 87
Charlotte, N.C. Â Chris Webber had 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Kings ended the Hornets' seven-game winning streak. Vlade Divac added 17 points and 10 rebounds to help the NBA-leading Kings to their third straight victory. The win was only the Kings' second in 11 games in Charlotte.
Timberwolves 98, Knicks 77
New York Â Wally Szczerbiak scored 25 points as Minnesota snapped an 11-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden, gaining its first victory in New York since Jan. 16, 1991. Kevin Garnett added 12 points, 15 rebounds and five assists before sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
Lakers 91, Trail Blazers 79
Los Angeles Â Shaquille O'Neal had 34 points and 14 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant also scored 34 to lead Los Angeles over Portland.
l Box scores on page 11C