Jordan joins exclusive club Wizard tops 30,000-point plateau ag

Saturday, January 5, 2002

By Joseph White ~ The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Unable to hit a shot and worn out by a sinus infection, Michael Jordan somehow summoned the energy to put an exclamation point on a victory against his old team.

It wasn't a layup or dunk, but it was truly spectacular.

Jordan grabbed Ron Mercer's layup out of the air with both hands and pinned it against the backboard in the final seconds of the Washington Wizards' 89-83 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

"I can jump when I have to," Jordan said, "especially when I get (angry)."

Jordan scored 29 points, but 19 of them came in the second quarter. He was 1-for-9 with four points in the second half as the Wizards nearly blew a 26-point lead, so a lot of frustration was unleashed in what coach Doug Collins called Jordan's most spectacular play of the season.

"I don't know where he came from," Collins said. "He was really dead on his feet. He was mad. That was an angry play. He was flying. John Thompson said he is Floor Jordan now, but he was flying on that one."

Jordan, who scored 51 and 45 in his two previous games, made 9 of 24 shots, 11 of 13 free throws and had seven rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes. He also become the fourth player in NBA history to score 30,000 points.

The victory achieved a personal goal for Jordan, who spoke of how he'd like to get the long-struggling Wizards above the level of the Bulls, the league's worst team since Jordan departed in 1998.

The mission seems already achieved. The Wizards (17-14) are three games above .500 and have won three straight and five in a row at home. The Bulls (6-25) are again at the bottom of the standings and are 0-17 on the road, the only NBA team yet to win away from home.

"This is special in a sense that we're trying to claw our way out of the basement of losing teams," Jordan said. "If we have to step on other people to move up, then that's what we do.

"That's the importance of it more than anything. I like to think that we're moving in the right direction and Chicago may not be moving in the right direction, and I don't want to be compared with them. I want to show some separation."

Jordan, who did not practice Thursday and was late for Friday's shootaround because of his sinus problems, was way off the mark several times as the Bulls rallied to 85-78 with 3:45 left.

Jordan stopped the run by getting fouled on a move to the basket and making both free throws with 1:54 to play. Both teams were cold the rest of the way as the Wizards hung on.

"They forced it to be a game," Jordan said. "And we limped ourselves right into a victory."

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