- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 2, 2000


CHARLOTTE, N.C. If the Washington Wizards were looking for any sort of motivation during halftime of last night's 95-77 rout of the Charlotte Hornets, coach Leonard Hamilton made sure that they didn't have to look long.

"Coach told us real quick that we were 2-17 in the second games of back-to-backs last year," said guard Richard Hamilton, who led the Wizards with 23 points. "So we wanted to make a statement tonight. We wanted to do everything together and play defense as a team. And hopefully good things will happen."

Good things did indeed happen for the 1-1 Wizards before 16,043 at the Charlotte Coliseum. Leading by nine points at halftime despite committing 15 turnovers, the Wizards who had turned the ball over 27 times the night before in Orlando, Fla. had just six in the second half. Tenacious defense, absent one night earlier, held Charlotte to 27 of 74 field goals (36.5 percent) and 0-for-9 on 3-point attempts.

Coach Hamilton, playing 20 minutes away from the town where he was born (Gastonia, N.C.), had plenty of praise to go around for the Wizards.

"I think tonight was a team victory. We had a high level of concentration both defensively and offensively," he said. "But the truth is, we have only won one game, and there's so much more work to be done. It is great to get that first win; it gives us motivation to work even harder."

Richard Hamilton came off the bench to score 15 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.

"I just like to be out on the floor, I don't want to be on the bench," he said. "When I get my chances on the court, I try to make the most of them and I did tonight with some good looks at the basket."

Rod Strickland added 18 points for Washington, Juwan Howard had 13, Felipe Lopez 12 and Mitch Richmond 10 to move into 25th place on the all-time scoring list. Richmond now has 19,652 career points.

Jamal Mashburn and Elden Campbell scored 13 each to lead Charlotte (1-1).

"When the shots don't go in, you are going to look bad," coach Paul Silas said. "Tonight nothing much went in, period."

The Wizards jumped on Charlotte early, stretched their lead to 14 in the second quarter and led 51-42 at the half.

Charlotte opened the third with an 8-4 run to pull to 55-50 on David Wesley's 21-foot jumper. Washington then took a timeout and tightened its defense afterward.

Lopez started a 10-0 run by stealing a pass from Wesley, drawing a foul from Mashburn and hitting two free throws.

The Hornets turned the ball over three more times in a five-minute drought. Mashburn was called for traveling, Wesley had a shot blocked, Campbell turned it over on an offensive foul and followed that by throwing the ball away on Charlotte's next possession.

Washington was making all its shots at the other end to stretch its lead to 65-50. Charlotte ended the drought on P.J. Brown's jumper with 3:56 to go in the third.

But it was too late for the Hornets, who never got closer than 11 the rest of the game.

Derrick Coleman, out the last month while he adjusted to new heart medication, hopes to return to the Hornets' lineup Nov. 8 but said it will take him at least a month past that to be in top condition.

Washington's Popeye Jones will be out at least three weeks with a fractured index finger on his left hand. Jones was injured Tuesday night against Orlando.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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