Friday, November 23, 2001

INDIANAPOLIS The Wizards have resurrected the career of Michael Jordan, and last night it seemed they tried to jumpstart the career of Pacers’ rookie Jamaal Tinsley.

Although only 6-foot-3, the Indiana point guard did his best impersonation of Magic Johnson as he handed out a franchise record 23 assists, scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Pacers to a 110-103 victory over Wizards, who have now lost eight games in a row.

On a night when the fans in this basketball crazy town sought to rekindle memories of Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller dueling to the death like they had in years gone by, Tinsley, the 27th pick in the draft, showed that the Pacers might have solidified their point guard position for the next 10 years.

Tinsley’s effort came on the heels of back-to-back 29- and 28-point efforts, respectively.

It was mostly by Tinsley’s orchestration that the Pacers got back into the game. Down by eight points in the second quarter, the Pacers made up that deficit quite easily by making 64 percent of their shots in the quarter.

Tinsley got the team in gear for the most part when he scored 10 points and handed out eight assists in the period. Tinsley sparked a 10-0 Indiana run early in the third quarter that wiped out the Wizards’ 56-48 lead and gave the Pacers their first lead of the second half.

“Tonight it was the third quarter 35-25 that killed us,” Wizards coach Doug Collins said.

Losing to the Pacers is not a rarity for the Wizards. They have now dropped 14 of their last 15 games to Indiana including nine straight and they have not beaten them on the road since March 1, 1997.

All five of Indiana’s starters scored in double figures, led by 27 points from Jermaine O’Neal. Jeff Foster added 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Pacers made 51.7 percent of their shots.

Jordan led the Wizards with 21 points but made just 8 of 26 shots. . Hubert Davis hit six of 10 from behind the 3-point line and finished with a season-high 21 points, and Christian Laettner was extremely productive on his way to 19 points and 15 rebounds. Richard Hamilton, back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the last three games, also added 19 points.

Laettner and Popeye Jones helped carried the Wizards in the first half when Jordan shot just 2-for-11 and scored six points. Laettner, in fact, had achieved his double double (11 points, 10 rebounds) by intermission. Jones played impressively in the first half as well, collecting eight points and eight rebounds. However, Jones also picked up three personal fouls before intermission and collected just two more rebounds the rest of the night.

Jordan has said that each night there is a quarter in which the Wizards are demoralized, and last night he said it was the third.

And there would be little arguing with him. Not only did the Wizards collapse defensively in the third, but they also turned the ball over five times after turning it over just once the entire first half.

“We got into taking quick shots in the third quarter, making turnovers,” Jordan said.

But it was Tinsley, whom Jordan the president of basketball operations liked very much but couldn’t select with the first pick in the draft, that impressed him the most.

“Jamaal played a lot like Isiah,” Jordan said.

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