WASHINGTON (AP) -- Before the game, Michael Jordan was warned
that his back spasms had a good chance of recurring if he played.
"Is it life-threatening?" Jordan asked.
"No," the team doctor said.
"Then I'm going to play," Jordan said.
"I wanted to get out there," Jordan said. "I had a lot of
people telling me not to, because they felt like it would damage
long-term value. I said 'I don't have long-term value.'"
Perhaps Washington really didn't need Jordan against a Clippers
team that looked disorganized in losing its seventh straight. But
he couldn't take the chance because the Wizards had already dropped
games to Miami and Toronto this week.
The victory tied the Wizards with Milwaukee for the final
Eastern Conference playoff spot.
"That had a lot to do with it," Jordan said. "We can't lose
another game to a team we're capable of beating. ... Sometimes it's
just good to have a big brother around, just for support. That's
why I wanted to play."
Moving gingerly and grimacing at times, Jordan shot just 4-of-14
but played steady defense against Quentin Richardson. Jordan sat
for good with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter and the Wizards
"In terms of limiting what I could do, this is probably the
worst I've had in a while," Jordan said. "I was basic. I took a
shot when I was open. I swear I don't think I jumped a foot off the
ground to get a rebound. I just boxed out and the ball came to
Corey Maggette scored 14 for the Clippers, who are 0-2 under new
coach Dennis Johnson. Los Angeles was hampered by poor shot
selection and big deficits in rebounding (52-37) and free-throw
The Clippers face a long road to recovery: This was the first
game in a six-game East Coast trip.
Los Angeles was at its worst in the third quarter when it was
"We were bad in the third quarter and there's really no
excuse,'' guard Eric Piatkowski said. "We had some good shots, but
we just didn't knock anything down. Once they got that lead, their
confidence level got high and it was over."
Jordan's back flared up in the second quarter of Tuesday night's
loss to the Raptors. He left the game, and the Wizards blew their
lead and lost 89-86. He has not missed a game this season.
A day of rest, massage and electrolysis got Jordan ready to
play. He did not attend the morning shootaround, and trainer Steve
Stricker went to Jordan's hotel in the afternoon and applied
electrical stimulation to try to break up the spasms.
"If Michael wants to play, Michael is going to play," coach
Doug Collins said. "Who is going to tell Michael Jordan that when
he wants to play a basketball game -- 'No, you can't play.'"
The 40-year-old Jordan, also recovering from a deep right thigh
bruise, committed the game's first turnover and first foul, then
made two quick jumpers. He showed some quickness by driving past
Richardson, although he missed the layup. He left for the locker
room in the final minute to get a head start on halftime treatment.
The game was tied eight times in the first quarter, but a 24-12
first-half free-throw discrepancy helped the Wizards to a 53-43
lead at the break. Brendan Haywood was 9-for-11 from the line in
the half and had 13 points.
The third quarter opened with a 12-2 Wizards run. Hughes, in his
second game after missing six with a sprained ankle, scored eight
of the points with two jumpers and two layups.
Sean Rooks' offensive rebound and layup were Los Angeles' only
points in the first six minutes of the second half. The Clippers
shot 4-for-21 in the third quarter and trailed 79-51 going into the
Clippers F Lamar Odom missed his second straight game with
a sprained right ankle. ... The eight third-quarter points were the
fewest allowed in a quarter this season by the Wizards, and tied
for fewest scored by the Clippers. ... Clippers reserve Chris
Wilcox fouled out in only 16 minutes. ... Wizards center Jahidi
White played for the first time this season, entering the game in
garbage time in the fourth quarter. White, who has been recovering
from knee surgery since late last summer, scored four points.