- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

The Washington Wizards yesterday sent forward Michael Smith back to the District of Columbia from the West Coast because of "conduct detrimental to the team," the latest in a rash of disciplinary problems for the team this season.

During the Wizards' 99-94 victory Wednesday night at Golden State, Smith unleashed a profane outburst after coming out of the game with just under seven minutes to play, and refused directives from coach Leonard Hamilton to calm down. Smith had to be restrained by assistant coaches and was ejected.

Smith will meet today with Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Jordan, general manager Wes Unseld and perhaps other front office officials to discuss the issue and any punishment.

Smith will not rejoin the team for its games tonight at the Los Angeles Lakers and tomorrow night at Utah.

"This team has shown resilience. I'm sure we'll put this behind us and move forward," Hamilton said.

As of last night, Smith's attorney, Jeff Harding, had not talked with Smith or the Wizards.

"Obviously, we will meet and we will try to get to the bottom of what happened and deal with it," he said."

A Wizards source said Smith's emotional blowup lasted for about seven minutes. Even when teammate Tyrone Nesby had a similar blowup Jan. 15, he eventually sat down and was allowed to return to the bench after halftime. But Smith's outburst lasted much longer than Nesby's, the source said.

Smith, a seventh-year forward averaging 3.5 points and 6.8 rebounds, has had a troubled season. He was arrested New Year's Eve after a brawl at a nightclub in Southwest and again in February for driving under the influence.

Several other Wizards also have grappled with disciplinary issues this season.

In January, former guard Rod Strickland received his third arrest in three years for driving under the influence. Strickland also was fined for missing practices, and suspended for skipping a doctor's appointment and a road trip before the Wizards cut him March 1.

The incident between Smith and Hamilton marred one of the team's infrequent occasions for celebration this season. Courtney Alexander scored a career-high 26 points as the Wizards defeated the Warriors for just their 17th victory this season.

"This win is about morale, spirit and pride," Alexander said. "Every win is about pride for us. No one on this team is concerned with our position in the [NBA Draft] lottery."

The Warriors and Wizards entered the game tied for the second-worst record (16-52) in the NBA, ahead of only the Chicago Bulls (11-56). Now the Warriors are alone as runners-up.

It was Golden State's 11th straight loss overall and ninth straight at home, although the Warriors never trailed until the fourth quarter.

"We thought this was one that we could get," Warriors guard Vonteego Cummings said. "But we came up short because we couldn't make our shots down the stretch."

Part of the reason was Alexander.

A first-round pick in last year's draft, Alexander was acquired just last month in a deadline trade with the Dallas Mavericks. He started in four games that Mitch Richmond missed with a strained right knee. But on Wednesday, Hamilton started Christian Laettner instead.

"We thought that we would try to match their size, but what actually ended up being better was our quickness," Hamilton said.

The Wizards went on an 8-3 run to take a 95-90 lead on Hubert Davis' 3-pointer with 1:47 left. Cummings hit a 3-pointer to close the gap, but Golden State couldn't get any closer.

Richard Hamilton had 28 points for the Wizards, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Davis added 21 points, and Jahidi White had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Antawn Jamison scored 23 points for the Warriors, but the Wizards kept him scoreless in the final quarter.

The Warriors led by as many as seven points in the third quarter, but the Wizards opened the fourth with another 3-pointer by Davis to narrow Golden State's edge to 78-77. The Wizards went ahead for the first time when David Vanterpool's jumper made it 79-78 with 9:13 to play. The lead seesawed the rest of the way.

The Warriors squandered an 11-point lead in the first quarter, but the Wizards couldn't manage to get the lead. Golden State held a 48-46 lead at the half.

The Warriors took a 19-8 lead in the first quarter on Jamison's dunk with 5:30 to go. The Wizards narrowed the gap to 19-15 on Hamilton's jumper, then tied it 22-22 on Davis' 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

The Warriors led 37-31 on Erick Dampier's turnaround jumper with 5:27 left before the half, but the Wizards tied it 46-46 on Alexander's 3-pointer with 1:08 left.

Adam Keefe's shot at the buzzer gave the Warriors their halftime edge.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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