Jordan's first start doesn't net win


Published: Sunday, December 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 1, 2002 at 1:05 a.m.
WASHINGTON - Michael Jordan made his first start of the season but couldn't come up with one last clutch play.
Jordan had an offensive rebound, an assist and blocked a shot in the final minute, but his pass to Bryon Russell with 5 seconds left was stolen, depriving the Wizards of a chance at a game-winning shot in a 95-94 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday night.
"I think he took one extra dribble," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "I think he probably wishes he would have pulled up."
Said Jordan: "It was one of those situations where you cannot not get a shot off. . . . I thought Russell was open underneath the basket."
Sixers Coach Larry Brown credited Keith Van Horn with making the defensive stop.
"We all knew that the ball was going to Michael," Van Horn said. "We as a team just did a good job of collapsing when he drove with the ball."
The victory was the Sixers' seventh in a row, while the Wizards have lost six straight.
Allen Iverson scored 12 of his 35 in the fourth quarter, hitting long jumpers despite tight defense from rookie Juan Dixon.
"I had my hand in his face. . . . I don't even think he could see the basket, but he was in a rhythm," Dixon said. "It's just amazing he's hitting shots over me like that."
Brown said he talked to Iverson at halftime to try to settle him down.
"I think he wanted to show Dixon he's not there yet and he got a little carried away," Brown said. "Allen was phenomenal in the second half, though."
Jerry Stackhouse kept the Wizards in the game, scoring 25 of his 38 points in the second half. Jordan scored 16 points on 8-of-20 shooting in a season-high 37 minutes.
Eric Snow's layup with 40 seconds left gave the Sixers a 95-90 lead. Stackhouse was then fouled by Greg Buckner and made one of two foul shots, and Jordan came down with the offensive rebound and passed to Stackhouse for a 3-pointer to make the score 95-94 with 29 seconds left.
Iverson then had his driving shot blocked by Jordan, setting up the Wizards' final chance with 5.4 seconds left.
"We can live with (the loss) because we competed for 48 minutes," Stackhouse said. "We had a chance at the end of the game. Nine times out of 10 you get an opportunity on that play."
Jordan had lobbied for increased playing time as the Wizards struggled through a five-game losing streak. He started fast, hitting a 19-foot jumper in the first minute and scoring 12 in the first half. But he was held to 2-of-7 shooting and only four points in the second half.
"I felt good," Jordan said of his start. "I felt like I could control what the team was doing at the time in terms of playing the point and helping out on defense."
Dixon, at times matched up against Iverson, scored a season-high 18 for Washington.
Jordan, who had been averaging 16 points and 28 minutes, played 19 minutes in the first half, more than any other Wizard.
Neither team opened up a double-digit lead throughout the game, and the Sixers never led by more than seven.
The Wizards led 50-46 at halftime, but the Sixers went on an 18-8 run in the third quarter and led the rest of the way.

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