- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2001

Michael Jordan attacked the rims on Fun Street yesterday.
The rims won, as did the Sonics, 99-84.
Jordan missed his first 14 field goal attempts against the Sonics. His next 12 attempts merely broke the monotony. His 5-for-26 shooting performance was anemic, even by his .411 standard going into the game.
"It probably was one of the worst-shooting games of my career," Jordan said. "You miss a few and it starts working on you mentally."
He missed more than a few and the Wizards started to have the eyes of Popeye Jones. At least his startled look is natural.
Jordan's outside shot was often flat, and his forays to the basket were exercises in self-discovery. He no longer is that person. He is a 38-year-old man trying to overcome a three-season layoff. He looked to the referees a couple of times. They looked the other way.
Jordan put some choice words to the looks after leaving the game with 19 seconds left. Leroy Richardson, who must not be able to take a hint from Ahmad Rashad, answered with a technical foul.
"It's frustrating," Jordan said.
The frustration is considerable, if you consider the team around Jordan and his losing battle with Father Time, the only opponent with an undefeated career record.
Gary Payton did not help, either, with his 32 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds. Payton was on his best behavior around the referees, possibly because the game was decided in the third quarter, when the Sonics fashioned a 21-point lead.
The Sonics did not even require a contribution from Vin Baker, who was sidelined with a bum left knee.
Count that as just another negative element against the hosts, redundant though the case may be.
The Sonics qualify as suspects in the Western Conference, the same as the Warriors. That is two no-shows in a row at home for the Wizards, three no-shows out of the last four games, and a 2-5 record.
The air is seeping from Jordan's comeback, and the team is reverting to the fetal position out of habit.
Coach Doug Collins delivered a kick to the team's backside after the game. It might register with more clarity if there were a spine attached to the team's tailbone.
"I'm begging guys to compete," Collins said.
Collins is begging his players to compete, Jordan can't make an outside shot, and Jahidi White is still looking for a pair of hands.
If you're off to see the Wizards, the not-so wonderful Wizards of Chinatown, consider this a warning. They appear to have a lot in common with the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow, in search as they are of courage, a heart and a brain.
"I have no answers," Collins said.
That's not good.
The quality of the opposition is expected to pick up with the Bucks, Jazz and Hornets slated to follow the Sonics.
That comes out to a gulp, a deep breath and a good therapist if you're the home team.
Jordan did not expect to win a championship with this group. He also did not expect to be among the dregs of the NBA. For now, the promise of a compromise is as grounded as Jordan.
The Wizards are poised to lose more games in a month than the Bulls lost in their 72-10 season in 1996. The Wizards appear to be down to the challenge.
"The fans can't be pleased with what they saw," Jordan said.
You think?
That either was a pent-up need to boo near the end of the third quarter or a call for Lue, and not to question the five minutes granted to Tyronn Lue.
Either way, it was the most life exhibited by those with a Washington bent up to that point.
Jordan and the Wizards felt an urge to fight after that, and the game almost became interesting. The Wizards sliced the deficit to seven points before they succumbed to their roll-over proclivities.
If you're looking for a positive, Jordan led the team with 12 rebounds.
The team does not play again until Wednesday night. That's another positive. Who knows?
Maybe Collins and Jordan can come up with some answers before the Bucks hit town.

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