- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2001


During a break in the second quarter of last night's game between the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls, Wizards rookie forward Courtney Alexander sat down on an empty courtside seat and chatted with a fan before returning to the floor.
Given what was to come, he would have been better off staying put.
In a battle between the league's worst (Chicago) and third-worst (Washington) teams, the Bulls knocked off the Wizards 113-109 before an announced 12,266 at MCI Center.
Despite the defeat, Washington (18-60) still trails Chicago (13-65) in the race for the league's poorest record. Alexander led the Wizards with a career-high 28 points, while Richard Hamilton added 25.
Elton Brand and Marcus Fizer combined for 47 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls, who won for the first time in 10 games and snapped a franchise-record 25-game road losing streak.
"This was a good opportunity for us to win a game, and we missed it," said Wizards forward Loy Vaught.
As has been the case for much of the season, Washington was undone by sub-par defense and sloppy offense. Chicago entered the game as the league's lowest scoring outfit (87.1 points per game) but shot 54 percent from the floor.
That was good enough to overcome a PlayStation-esque 63.4 percent shooting mark by the Wizards, whose 23 turnovers led to 41 Bulls points.
"It's very difficult, regardless of what you're doing, to turn the ball over the way we turned it over," said Washington coach Leonard Hamilton. "They had a lot of easy points."
With a half-empty, mostly listless arena looking on, Washington and Chicago engaged for three quarters in the basketball equivalent of a Tom Arnold sitcom: Scheduled for broadcast, but hardly necessary.
However, the fourth quarter was a different story, as the two clubs staged a spirited, back-and-forth effort that had the crowd on its feet. Down 101-92, the Wizards pulled to within a basket behind a three-point play by Jahidi White, a Vaught tip and a slashing, coast-to-coast drive by Hamilton.
Washington then tied the game on a thunderous dunk by White, who bowled over Fizer to make it 101-101. With less than a minute to go, the Wizards took a 109-108 lead their first since the game's opening quarter when Vaught buried a baseline jumper.
The Bulls responded with a Fizer tip of a Brand miss that made it 110-109 with 35.2 seconds left. On Washington's next possession, Vaught missed a baseline jumper a mirror image of his previous shot and Chicago's Jamal Crawford made one of two free throws at the other end to give the Bulls a two-point advantage.
"The first [jumper] was a real comfortable shot," Vaught said. "But the second one, they sniffed it out quickly. [Ron] Artest went for my eyes not the ball and I didn't even see how I missed."
The Wizards had a final chance to tie or win, but Brand picked off an inbound pass by Laron Profit, leading to a Crawford dunk at the buzzer.
After the game, Leonard Hamilton said he wasn't embarrassed about losing to the NBA's lowliest team.
"I've watched all the films [of the Bulls]," he said. "If you look at how they've played, they've had extended runs on everyone they've played … To be honest, we've been playing very similar [to the Bulls] all year long we've come close in games, but we haven't been able to win them."
In the second quarter, a malfunctioning shot clock was matched only by the Wizards' miscues: Hamilton dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds; Alexander bobbled a simple pass into a backcourt violation; Profit capped a spinning, borderline out-of-control drive with a pass into the waiting clutches of an empty first row seat; White short-armed an outlet pass to a stunned A.J. Guyton.
Even when Washington did something right, it went wrong. White had a chance for a pair of three-point plays one on a ferocious dunk over Fizer but missed both free throws. And Michael Smith leveled Guyton with a backcourt pick, only to be charged with a dubious blocking foul.
Meanwhile, the Bulls took advantage, running off a pair of 7-2 spurts behind Artest and Brand. Artest initiated the Bulls' first run with a swooping, one-handed dunk over White, while a Brand basket gave Chicago a 59-42 lead.
The Bulls would have led by more if not for a flurry of jumpers by Alexander, who scored eight points in a row and 13 in the quarter.
The Wizards got off to a poor start in the first quarter, committing seven turnovers that led to 14 Bulls points. Hamilton scored nine in the quarter, but Washington trailed 31-28 at its conclusion, largely due to Fizer's 11 points off the bench.

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