- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

SAN ANTONIO For those wondering what type of team the Washington Wizards might have without the presence of Michael Jordan, last night was probably a pretty good barometer.

Does last year's 19-63 record sound familiar?

It probably should. With Jordan sitting out to give his ailing right knee a rest, the Spurs beat the Wizards 103-88 in the cavernous Alamodome.

At first, the Spurs (11-4) seemed destined for a letdown with Jordan sitting out the game. But when it was time to get serious in the third quarter, the Spurs toyed with the Wizards, using a 16-0 run to outscore them 28-14 in the period.

The loss was the Wizards' second in a row and ended a modest two-game road winning streak. The Wizards will try to make a return to the win column when they take on the banged up Houston Rockets tomorrow.

There is no telling whether Jordan, who is listed as day-to-day, will be able to play tomorrow, but judging by the way the Rockets have played lately without the injured Steve Francis, the Wizards might be better served if Jordan sits the game out. Last night the Rockets were humiliated by the Chicago Bulls 95-69.

Although X-rays and an MRI turned up no severe damage to Jordan's knee, the Wizards medical staff decided Monday that he needed to give it some rest. As a result, yesterday's game was the first Jordan sat out since March 5, 1993, when he missed a pair of games while hospitalized with a foot infection.

And he was probably better off for it because the Spurs, with the exception of the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, are one of those teams that provides innumerable matchup problems for the Wizards.

Without Jordan to funnel the offense, the Wizards shot the ball decently (46.1 percent) but couldn't score when it counted. Conversely, the Wizards couldn't prevent anyone in a San Antonio jersey from putting the ball in the basket.

Reserve guard Antonio Davis led six San Antonio players in double figures scoring with 15. David Robinson and Tim Duncan both finished with 13 points. San Antonio shot 46.3 percent from the field, but it was much more fluid on offense than the Wizards, collecting 28 assists compared to just 17 for the Wizards.

The victory came so easily that Robinson and Duncan were used sparingly in the second half. Robinson didn't even attempt a field goal after halftime.

Washington's Richard Hamilton led all scorers with 24 points, but they were mostly meaningless in a game in which the Wizards trailed by as much as 26 in the second half.

Jordan sat on the bench with his teammates. Wearing a blazer and slacks, Jordan was involved in the team's timeouts and shouted encouragement to his overmatched teammates.

With Jordan out of the lineup, second-year guard Courtney Alexander made his second start of the year and played for the first time in four games. Alexander has had trouble acclimating himself to the offense, and Collins has been critical of his effort for most of this season, but last night he was one of two reasons the Wizards managed to reach halftime trailing by just 57-48.

Alexander finished with 16 points but scored just four in the second half.

Guarded by one of the better one-on-one defenders in the league Bruce Bowen early on Alexander stopped being the jump shooter Collins has ridiculed for much of the season and instead tried to make things happen by going to the basket.

As a result, Alexander shook loose for 12 points in the half.

Alexander worked well in tandem with Hamilton, who scored 16 points in the first half, and with 6:32 left in the half the Wizards trailed the Spurs by just 39-36.

But the Wizards never defended well before halftime, which was reflected in the 51.3 percent San Antonio shot from the field.

Robinson made the most of the Spurs' height advantage along the frontline by going at rookie Kwame Brown, whom Robinson is 17 years older than.

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