7:30 PM ET, February 12, 2003
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Michael Jordan will soon retire for the third time, yet he's already revising history.
"I didn't really foul out. They gave me one extra foul," he said, smiling. "If we went into overtime, I would've argued. There was only 18 seconds left and I was tired anyway."
Jordan committed a blocking foul -- his sixth -- against Corey Maggette, who made one of two free throws to pull Los Angeles to 104-101. Jordan smiled at the call, then walked off to a prolonged standing ovation. He plopped on the floor and didn't get up despite the crowd's urging for a curtain call.
"Michael just has a tremendous will to win," said Clippers coach Alvin Gentry, who escorted his two young boys into the Wizards locker room after the game. "If I could give one thing to our players, especially from him, it would be the fact that the most important thing to him is winning the game. That's the attitude you've got to have."
Tyronn Lue added a season-high 21 points and Christian Laettner had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who snapped a five-game road losing streak and beat the Clippers for the eighth time in nine meetings in Los Angeles.
"My biggest concern was, were we going to be able to stop them at the end because they were really coming after us," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "We got two or three good stops when we needed them and that really was the difference in the game."
Jordan, who had just six points in the first half, committed two turnovers in the fourth quarter and missed a free throw with the Wizards clinging to a two-point lead with 2:59 left. But he made up for it by assisting on a basket by Brendan Haywood and hitting two free throws to keep the Wizards ahead 103-96.
"Michael penetrated and kicked and Brendan hit a big shot," Collins said. "We had a couple things we found that hurt them that got the lead for us."
Elton Brand scored four straight points to pull the Clippers to 103-100 with 39 seconds left. Jordan got fouled again, made the first and missed the second for a 104-100 lead.
Odom hit a 3-pointer to draw the Clippers to 106-104 with 3 seconds left, but Lue made two free throws to seal it.
The Wizards shot 69 percent from 3-point range and controlled the boards 41-34.
"Michael Jordan makes the team better," Odom said. "His presence and winning attitude is what makes the difference. They have real team camaraderie. He knows how to win games by being aggressive."
The Clippers erased most of a 13-point deficit early in the fourth by outscoring Washington 14-5 to trail 89-88 with 7:59 left. Eric Piatkowski scored four points in a row, and Quentin Richardson and Miller hit 3-pointers in the spurt.
Moments earlier, Jordan entered the game and immediately turned the ball over, leading to Miller's 3-pointer. But he later made a terrific play by tipping the ball into the hands of Haywood, who dunked, got fouled and made the free throw to keep Washington ahead 94-90.
Jordan committed another turnover near the Clippers' bench that led to Maggette's basket, then Laettner turned the ball over and Odom scored on a fast-break layup as the Clippers trailed 98-96 with 3:58 to go.
"We did a good job of getting ourselves back in the game, but we had way too many defensive breakdowns," Gentry said. "For the most part, Corey and Q (Quentin Richardson) did a great job on Michael. He's still pretty good at 40."
The Wizards led by one early in the third before they used a 22-13 run to take an 84-74 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Jordan had 10 points, including two turnaround jumpers, that had the crowd cheering. The Clippers made just four of 11 free throws during Washington's spurt.
After trailing by 10 points in the first quarter, the Clippers rallied to tie the game at 51 heading into halftime. Piatkowski came off the bench to spark a 14-5 run, including a four-point play and his 700th career 3-pointer, that tied it for the first time at 37.
Maggette hit two free throws to force the halftime tie before Jordan missed a wide-open 19-footer at the buzzer.
Maggette won the scoring matchup of former Duke players with 22 points. Laettner had 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Brand had 15 points and just four rebounds. ``Christian is a really funny guy. Anytime he sees those Duke guys, he still wants to be the king of Duke,'' Collins said. ``Make no bones about it, that's a little added incentive for him.'' ... Wizards G-F Jerry Stackhouse didn't play because of a left groin pull. ... The crowd of 20,578 was the largest to attend a professional basketball game in Southern California and the Clippers' fourth sellout. ... The Wizards are 13-15 in back-to-back sets and 9-5 in the second game. The Clippers are 6-16 in such sets and 6-16 in the second game. ... It was Jordan's first game at Staples Center against the Clippers. A year ago, he played here against the Lakers.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||39-79 (.494)||36-77 (.468)|
|3PM-3PA||9-13 (.692)||7-16 (.438)|
|FTM-FTA||21-29 (.724)||25-31 (.806)|
|Fast Break Points||5||7|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (1/0)||23 (0/0)|