- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

Eight-hundred-and-sixty-six games between single-digit performances. The worst offensive outing of his professional career.
Both these things apparently resonated in Michael Jordan's shaved head after he scored six points in the Washington Wizards' worst loss of the season, a 27-point drubbing at Indiana on Thursday. So last night, the 38-year-old Jordan exacted a measure of revenge by turning back the clock and tormenting the Charlotte Hornets for a season-high 51 points in a 107-90 victory before a sellout throng of 20,674 at MCI Center.
Asked if he felt a need to give the type of electric display he did, Jordan replied, "Sure. I figured you guys would say I had kind of lost whatever I'd gained after scoring six points, my career low. I'm pretty sure you guys were saying how old I was. I wanted to certainly make a statement offensively. But most important, I wanted to get back on a winning track.
"Someone asked me if this losing would sustain and keep going. We had a great rhythm going when we won those nine games in a row. I felt like we could end this here tonight. So obviously, I came out and from a leadership standpoint tried to initiate the offense."
There wasn't any question, not even for a second, that Jordan brought his "A" game last night. He made 21 of 38 shots from the field and nine of 10 from the free throw line in the 38 minutes he needed to reach 50 or more points for the 39th time.
On Jordan's way to the second-best offensive performance in the league this year San Antonio's Tim Duncan scored 53 earlier last week a number of franchise records came crashing down.
His 24 points in the first quarter fell short of Jeff Malone's franchise record 28 for a quarter, but it did set a franchise record for most points in the first quarter, eclipsing the 23 by Bernard King scored in December 1990. And his 34 points broke Malone's first-half record of 33, which had stood since Feb. 27, 1988.
Also, Jordan's 51 points eclipsed the MCI record for points scored, 49, by Orlando's Tracy McGrady (April, 13, 2001) and Boston's Antoine Walker (Jan. 7, 1998).
After 23 lead changes in the first half, the Wizards (15-14) went ahead for good on Hubert Davis' jumper that made the score 47-45 with 3:37 left in the first half. The Wizards built their second-half lead as high as 21 points and managed to stave off any runs by the Hornets (13-17), who were led by Jamal Magliore's 22 points.
Before the game, Wizards coach Doug Collins said he could sense that Jordan's attitude was different than in recent days.
"He was very playful before the game," Collins said.
Collins, who also coached Jordan in Chicago early in the player's pro career, knew that his bad game against Indiana would provide Jordan with the motivation he needed to make amends. But he did not think it would come in the form of 51 points.
"Do you think the guy has a little pride?" Collins said. "I mean, he had a tough night in Indiana, and I think that he was going to come back and show who he is. That is what great players are made out of. He's unbelievable. He has a heart like I have never seen before."
Charlotte coach Paul Silas compared Jordan, who scored most of his points on jump shots, to another legend.
"He is good at creating space," Silas said. "He is almost like Ali, when Ali used to fade back and you couldn't hit him with the jab. Mike is the same way when he fades back on his shot. There is no way you can get to it. And when he is hitting his shots, it is almost impossible to stop him."
Jordan's rhythm created opportunities galore for his teammates. Center Jahidi White scored 12 points and had a season-high 12 rebounds. Hubert Davis was 5-for-6 from behind the 3-point line and finished with 21 points. Chris Whitney finished with seven points and handed out a season-high eight assists.
But Jordan said that the Wizards shouldn't get used to this type of effort from him. He said that at 38, he's not going to make this the norm.
"I don't think I can do this every night where I'm shooting 38 times and the offense is coming through me," Jordan said. "But I can be a threat and a force out there when I'm on the floor."
Said Davis: "He's our leader. … He carried us at the start, and he had it made up in his mind that we just weren't going to lose this game. He, more than anybody else, knows that you can get comfortable winning, just like you can get comfortable losing. He didn't want us to do that. We all just fell in line."

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