Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 3)

Series starts 1/22

Game 1: Wednesday, January 22nd
Wizards94Final
Hornets103
Game 2: Saturday, February 1st
Hornets104Final
Wizards109
Game 3: Wednesday, February 19th
Wizards75Final
Hornets87

Hornets 104

(24-24, 8-16 away)

Wizards 109

(23-25, 16-10 home)

Coverage: COX

7:00 PM ET, February 1, 2003

Verizon Center, Washington, DC

1 2 3 4 T
NO 18 33 31 22104
WSH 27 19 30 33109

Top Performers

New Orleans: J. Mashburn 39 Pts, 8 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

Washington: M. Jordan 45 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Jordan scores 45 minus two starters

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael Jordan's season-high 45 points alone weren't enough. He needed help, and he finally got it in the fourth quarter.

 Michael Jordan
Jordan

With starters Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes injured, Jordan carried the Washington Wizards on his shoulders from the opening whistle and rested just four minutes in Saturday night's 109-104 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

"With two key starters out, I had to step my game up early -- just to get some momentum," Jordan said. "My offense ignited everything energy-wise, and the guys fed off me. I was going to try to pull anybody along with me as much as I could.

"In the second half, things changed. The first half was me; the second half was everybody."

Jordan, who turns 40 this month, was 18-for-33 from the field, 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. His 44 minutes were his most in regulation this season and second only to the 53 he played in a double-overtime game against Indiana. The only time he sat _ a four-minute stretch in the second quarter -- the Hornets went on a 14-4 to take their first lead.

"Everybody talks about his age and everything," said Jamal Mashburn, who led the Hornets with a season-high 39 points. "The guy still can play. You don't get 30,000-plus points without knowing how to play. He didn't do it all on athletic ability, even though that's all they show on SportsCenter sometimes."

Despite Jordan's hot game, the Wizards trailed 82-76 after three quarters. Coach Doug Collins' instructions in the huddle: "I don't want you to get that 'floating Michael eye.' We've got to go to other guys on the floor. He's helped us to this point, and we have to have other guys help finish."

Then the supporting cast -- mostly young players who have been frustratingly inconsistent -- chipped in as Washington opened the fourth with a 19-4 run that was perhaps the team's best stretch of basketball all season.

Rookie Juan Dixon hit a big 3-pointer and converted a steal into a layup. Kwame Brown had four rebounds in the quarter and huge block on a drive by David Wesley. Tyronn Lue scored six points, and Etan Thomas bruised the opposition with his inside play.

"Once MJ was on fire, we couldn't let him work that hard," Brown said. "You've got to do something -- he scored all the points."

Defense was a big part of the victory for the Wizards, who had lost five of six. They had 13 steals and forced 23 turnovers.

"If we would have handled the ball well, we would have won the game," New Orleans coach Paul Silas said.

Wesley scored 16 for the Hornets, who have dropped four of five. They are 1-3 since Baron Davis went out with a knee injury.

The 19-4 run put the Wizards ahead 95-86. The Hornets twice cut the lead to three, but Washington went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal the victory.

Stackhouse, the Wizards' leading scorer, has a pulled left groin and will return after next weekend's All-Star break. Hughes has a bruised left knee and is day-to-day.

Jordan scored four of Washington's first five baskets and had an assist on the other one. He went 6-for-9 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line for 16 points in the first quarter.

It made little difference who was guarding him. He shot jumpers over Wesley, easily worked through screens to lose Courtney Alexander and drove to the basket on Mashburn.

The Hornets, meanwhile, got their points three at a time to open the second half, with four 3-pointers and three three-point plays. Mashburn's jumper put New Orleans ahead 78-68 late in the period, but Washington cut it to six by the start of the fourth.

Game notes
There was a moment of silence before the game for the seven astronauts who died Saturday morning aboard the space shuttle Columbia. ... Hornets center Elden Campbell returned as a reserve after missing two games with a strained neck muscle. ... Hornets center Robert Traylor, who had made only 18 of 30 free throws all season, went 11-for-12 from the line. ... Alexander, who had a difficult season last year with the Wizards, said he had this game circled on his calendar after missing the earlier meeting in New Orleans with an injury. He scored six points in 15 minutes and said his time in Washington wasn't happy because he didn't mesh with coach Doug Collins. "I really wasn't ready for his personality," Alexander said. "I think you have to have a strong mind-state to deal with his personality. Not that he's a bad person or a bad coach, I just wasn't ready for it."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NO
WSH
Points 104 109
FGM-FGA 36-74 (.486) 41-84 (.488)
3PM-3PA 5-11 (.455) 4-11 (.364)
FTM-FTA 27-28 (.964) 23-28 (.821)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-45 10-30
Assists 18 20
Turnovers 23 10
Steals 5 13
Blocks 2 2
Fast Break Points 4 2
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (1/0) 24 (1/0)

Top Performers

New Orleans
Washington
Jamal Mashburn Mashburn
Points: 39
Reb: 8
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Michael Jordan Jordan
Points: 45
Reb: 3
Ast: 6
Stl: 1
Blk: 1