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Bucks make MJ's last Milwaukee trip miserable

1/31/2003

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- For once, Michael Jordan didn't feel like Milwaukee was his home away from home.

Sam Cassell's 31 points helped the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Washington Wizards 97-90 Thursday night despite 24 points from Jordan in what was likely his last game at the Bradley Center.

"People thought he was too old,'' Cassell said. "He's still one of the best players in the league.''

Although the crowd was on Jordan's side, fortune and Jerry Stackhouse weren't there with him down the stretch, which has always been Jordan's time to shine.

After his fadeaway jumper over Ray Allen pulled Washington to 89-87, the Bucks put Anthony Mason on Jordan and he missed his last three shots as the Bucks iced the victory with a bucket and four free throws by Cassell.

It was hard to tell if the standing ovation from the sellout crowd as the buzzer sounded was more a tribute to Jordan or the Bucks.

"It was good to see the building full, it was good to see it have some energy,'' Bucks coach George Karl said. "I was a little disappointed it was weighted toward Michael, but he's earned that.

"He's had a lot of great games in this building and not living very far from here, I'm sure there's a lot of fans of Chicago.''

When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read: "Thank you, Michael!''

Jordan said he'll always hold Milwaukee close to his heart.

"Next best thing to Chicago, obviously,'' he said. "I've always had good games. Early on we couldn't beat them in the first part of my career.

"I've always enjoyed playing here. The fans have been very supportive and tonight they showed that and I'm very appreciative of that and it just makes me feel good that my work gets noticed and I wish I could play forever.''

Stackhouse aggravated a strained left groin and took a seat midway through the third quarter in his fourth game back since missing four games with the injury. He finished with 5 points in 22 minutes on 2-of-13 shooting.

"I think we got a little bit of a break with Stackhouse being out,'' Karl said.

Wizards coach Doug Collins said it was more than a little bit of
a break for the Bucks.

"He's been the guy late in games we've gone to a lot,'' Collins said. "Sure, if you can get Jerry on one side and Michael on the other, it gives you a lot more options, no question about that.''

Kwame Brown tied his career high with 20 points. He had three
straight baskets to give Washington its first lead, 68-67, just
before the third quarter ended.

Tim Thomas added 17 points and Allen 16 for the Bucks. But most
of the 18,717 fans that made up Milwaukee's second sellout crowd of
the season came to see Jordan.

The 39-year-old has said he'll retire after this season, making it in all likelihood his last trip to the arena where his Chicago Bulls recorded their record-setting 70th victory in 1996.

Fans gave him a rousing ovation during introductions, then booed
loudly when the lights went out for the home team's theatrics.

The sellout crowd didn't disagree with a questionable foul call when Allen tapped Jordan on his way to the hoop in the second quarter.

While Allen argued his case with the officials, the giant scoreboard message urged fans to "Make some noise!'' But they didn't. They just aimed their cameras and awaited Jordan's free throws, ready to flood the arena with flashes.

Jordan had 11 points in the first half, but the Wizards trailed
53-47.

Game notes
Milwaukee has beaten Washington nine straight times at the
Bradley Center. ... Karl is five victories shy of Del Harris's
team-high 191. ... Jordan's Chicago Bulls teams were 19-11 at the
Bradley Center. The Bucks beat the Wizards in the one game that
Jordan played at Milwaukee last year.