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Plenty of playing minutes finally catch up with MJ

3/2/2003

MIAMI (AP) -- All those 40-minute games lately finally caught up
with 40-year-old Michael Jordan.

The Miami Heat made nine consecutive shots in the second half
and took advantage of a poor shooting night by a weary Jordan to
beat the Washington Wizards 93-83 Sunday.

Jordan missed seven of his first eight attempts and finished
9-for-27, including two airballs.

''Michael is human,'' Wizards coach Doug Collins said. ''When it
comes to minutes, he has played a lot lately, and his shot wasn't
going tonight.''

Since turning 40 on Feb. 17, Jordan has averaged 27.3 points a game. But he also has averaged 44 minutes.

Playing with a wrap covering his right leg to protect a thigh
bruise, Jordan settled for 21 points against Miami.

''I've been on a pretty good roll, and I guess everybody was
looking for me,'' Jordan said. ''I've played a lot of minutes the
past few games. I didn't seem to have it tonight.''

Miami won even though scoring leader Eddie Jones played just 21
minutes because of foul trouble. He committed his fifth and sixth
fouls in a 13-second span and was disqualified with 8:45 left.

But by then Miami was in the midst of its shooting streak,
which turned a 63-59 deficit into an 84-72 lead. Travis Best's
three-point play put Miami ahead to stay, and his 3-point basket
midway through the fourth quarter made it 80-70.

Reserve Mike James also sparked the surge, helping the Heat
score on nine consecutive possessions. He finished with 10 points
and five assists in 21 minutes.

''They were off and running,'' Jordan said. ''We never got into
sync offensively, except in the third quarter, when our defense
created some things.''

Caron Butler led Miami with 20 points and added nine rebounds
and five assists. The rookie matched up against Jordan at both ends
of the court.

''He's the best,'' Butler said. ''I just tried to go at him. He
went at me. It was fun out there.''

The game drew a noisy crowd of 16,500 -- only the sixth home
sellout for the Heat this season.

''It was great,'' coach Pat Riley said. ''There were a lot of
fans that we haven't seen most of the year. We wanted to try to put
something in their minds to get the fans to come back.''

Washington, which had won three in a row, missed a chance to
climb above .500 for the first time since Jan. 22. The Wizards have
lost eight of their past 10 road games.

Miami snapped a three-game losing streak and avenged a 30-point
defeat against Washington in their most recent meeting in November.

Brian Grant had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Miami, and Jones
scored 16 points despite his limited playing time. Jerry Stackhouse
had 24 for the Wizards.

Anthony Goldwire, who signed a 10-day contract Saturday with
Washington, scored 10 points, including a 3-pointer that made the
score 57-57 during a 14-0 Wizards run. They took their first lead
of the second half on their next possession.

The spurt came when Jones went to the bench early in the third
quarter with four fouls.

''We played eight minutes of team basketball,'' Collins said,
''and that was in the third quarter.''

Game notes
Athletes in the crowd for Jordan's first game in Miami this
season included Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain of the Dolphins,
Willis McGahee and Andre Johnson of the Miami Hurricanes and Ivan
Rodriguez of the Florida Marlins. ... Jones fouled out for the
first time this season. ... The Wizards fell to 9-6 in the second
game when playing back-to-back.