Hornets end Wizards' 9-game winning streak

Thursday, December 27, 2001

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan moved through the lane with ease, went up for what should have been a routine jumper and watched the ball rattle off the rim.

It happened over and over -- six times in the decisive fourth quarter -- as Jordan faltered down the stretch and failed to lead the Washington Wizards to the longest winning streak in franchise history.

Jordan scored 28 points, not enough offense to cover Richard Hamilton's absence, as the Wizards had their nine-game winning streak snapped in a 99-93 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

"A couple of times I got in and I just couldn't finish it," said Jordan, who shot 11-for-28.

Bothered by Charlotte's zone defense, Jordan fell out of rhythm in the final period and made just five of his 11 tries. He missed four straight midway through the quarter, and after hitting a late 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four, the ball slipped out of Jordan's hands under Charlotte's basket after the Hornets double-teamed him.

"I never liked zones," Jordan said. "I felt like that's a lazy way to play defense and with them, you can eliminate a lot of the stars making things happen."

Hamilton, Washington's second-leading scorer at 19.8 points a game, was placed on the injured list before the game with a groin injury. Without him, the Wizards had to rely on Jordan and backup guard Tyrone Lue for scoring.

"Take 20 points out of your lineup and you're not going to be able to keep it rolling," Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. "We knew Mike was going to get his, so once we figured out to stay at home with him we were there to get the rebound off his misses and able to stop some of the other guys from scoring."

The Hornets, playing in front of their first sellout crowd of the season, didn't do that in the first half.

Jordan, playing in his home state, opened the game with an 18-foot jumper while scoring 11 in the first quarter. Lue was also there to help, hitting everything from the perimeter while scoring 12 points in 10 minutes.

No scoring zone

But when the Hornets went to the zone, Jordan and Lue stopped making their shots. Lue scored just three points in the second half on 1-of-5 shooting and Charlotte stopped focusing so much on Jordan.

"There's not anybody on this planet that's going to stop Michael," Charlotte guard Baron Davis said. "So you have to make him make it a team effort. If you can do that, you can win."

As Jordan's shots were rattling off the rim, Charlotte scored five unanswered points to break open a close game and take an 89-80 lead with 4:44 to play.

The Hornets kept scoring as Jordan kept missing, but Jahidi White and Popeye Jones prevented the game from getting away. White dunked in one of Jordan's misses and Jones scored on a pair of jumpers to cut Charlotte's lead to 93-86.

Jordan finally ended his drought with a scooping layup that made it 93-88 with 1:39 left.

Davis, who bruised his right knee in a first-quarter collision and limped the rest of the game, answered for Charlotte with a 13-foot jumper that made it 95-88 with 35 seconds to go.

Davis said he didn't know if he would play Friday night against Milwaukee.

"A game like this, you have to suck it up," he said. "But I can't even bend my knee right now and if I have pain like this on Friday, I won't be able to go."

Elden Campbell led Charlotte with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Davis scored 15 and had a career-high 15 assists.

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