- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 2, 2001

The Wizards seemingly exist to infuriate their dwindling band of supporters.
They won two consecutive games on the road, including one against the 76ers, and then last night, at home, they were in a funk, in a stupor, out of it. They looked as if their legs were still planted in Miami, where they had played the Heat the previous night.
The Wizards won two games in a row, three of their last four, and act as if it is time to be hospitable to the opposition.
Tony Cheng's neighborhood apparently is where the NBA's sick come to get well. The Magicmen were in the throes of a three-game losing streak, and Grant Hill was on the bench in street clothes, with his left foot in a boot.
One team is up, the other down.
So what happened?
The teams traded places as the Magic defeated the Wizards 96-87.
The Wizards fell into a trance just before halftime.
Darrell Armstrong drove unimpeded to the basket for a layup, as if he was shooting by himself on a playground. Then Richard Hamilton threw the ball away, whereupon Troy Hudson retrieved it and hit a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer sounded.
That five-point sequence pushed the Magic ahead by 11 points and reminded the Wizards yet again just how tenuous their situation is. They have little margin for error, as coach Doug Collins routinely points out.
They can't be lethargic. They can't have mental lapses. They can't have a five-point giveaway session just before halftime. They are not good enough, not even close. They are an adventure, a mental case from game to game, even quarter to quarter.
"That little surge right before the half, they doubled the score on us right there," Collins said. "Hudson hit that 3, and that sort of stuff has been happening to us."
The seemingly blind suddenly can see around the Wizards, as was the case with Hudson, who came into the game having made only one of his 19 3-point attempts this season.
Michael Jordan picked up two early fouls and went to the bench. He was poked in the left eye by Armstrong with 5:27 left in the second quarter and then went to the locker room after shooting an air ball. The tendinitis in his right knee also is getting worse.
Bad eye. Bad knee. Bad wrist.
Jordan is down to one or two good body parts.
In Jordan's absence in the second quarter, Tracy McGrady completed two monster dunk shots from the baseline against Hubert Davis, whose shoes seemed to have glue on them. Davis was beaten so badly each time that his likeness could not make the poster shot.
Jordan tried to go at McGrady with conviction in the second half but lacked the wherewithal to make it happen. Jordan finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 33 minutes. He needed 19 shots to score the 15 points. Too many of the shots were attempted on one leg, as Collins saw it. He pulled Jordan from the game with 3:50 left.
A trip to the doctor is next for Jordan. Rest could follow after that.
"The guy amazes me," Collins said. "I don't know how he does it. I really don't. He would have stayed out there to the end, because he's not one to walk away from a player."
McGrady is one of the NBA's young guns who hopes to be the next Jordan.
The perceptions around both players are instructive. McGrady is said to be exciting and on top of his game, while Jordan is having to redefine his low-altitude game.
Yet going into the game, their numbers were remarkably similar, with McGrady averaging 24.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists and Jordan 25.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
McGrady had his way with the one-legged Jordan, for what it was worth, other than a nine-point victory.
"He [McGrady] is a great, great player," Collins said. "He plays the game with grace and has a charisma about him."
The Wizards lacked energy and a healthy Jordan.
That is a bad combination with this team.
"We just didn't have that little extra that we needed," Collins said.

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