- The Washington Times - Monday, November 26, 2001

The Wizards are on a 20-win pace, one game better than their 19-63 run-in with indolence last season.
That is with Doug Collins, Michael Jordan and Kwame Brown, the No. 1 pick overall in the NBA Draft last June.
The three faces of the franchise have developed a 3-9 wrinkle.
The team's modest rate of activity could look good after it spends seven of the next eight games on the road. The last game in that stretch is in Memphis, Tenn., where Jason Williams still leads the NBA in passes to the innocent sitting at courtside. Duck. Incoming. Williams was pushed out of Sacramento because of this proclivity, and all he has to show for his no-brain manner in Memphis is a 1-11 record.
Williams is able to dribble with his nose hairs, ear lobes and eyebrows, none of which is helpful to his teammates. But it looks good in the Nike commercial, and it looks particularly good to the other 28 teams in the NBA, including the Wizards.
Williams, a halftime show trapped in a point guard's body, serves an additional function beyond Nike.
He demonstrates how things could be worse. They have him. We don't. Thank God for small favors. We do have Tyronn Lue, sidelined with a mysterious hand injury.
We also are rumored to have Brendan Haywood, the 7-footer who has been out of commission forever after tearing the ligaments in his left thumb. He is not necessarily the answer to what often ails the Wizards underneath the basket. Yet his is another body, and a big body at that, and preferable to some of the alternatives lurking on the bench.
The Wizards outrebounded the Celtics 54-43 in the last game largely because of their guards. Jordan had a team-high 11 rebounds, Richard Hamilton a season-high eight. The two lost their legs as a result, along with their shooting touch, and the Wizards nearly lost a game that was theirs.
Jordan and Hamilton combined to make only 12 of 43 field goal attempts, with several of their misses occurring in the waning minutes of regulation, when one basket would have eliminated the Celtics.
Collins noticed the absence of legs on the floor but decided a no-legged Jordan and Hamilton beat the well-rested legs on the bench.
No legs or not, Jordan and Hamilton each made an essential defensive play. Hamilton's steal off an inbound pass following Christian Laettner's 18-footer sealed the outcome.
The victory, while not artful, was still a victory. A team burdened with an eight-game losing streak can't be choosy.
"That was a great win for our guys," Collins said.
He meant how the Wizards resisted the urge to roll over in overtime after squandering a 15-point lead in the last 6:38 of regulation. They absorbed the blow to their fragile psyches and made enough plays to avert what would have been the cruelest defeat of their season.
Jordan, meanwhile, is accumulating a list of grievances against Paul Pierce, the 6-6 forward who is developing the habit of being a shot-blocker around Jordan. Pierce has three blocks against Jordan in two games this season. The first led the Celtics to victory in Boston, and the last prevented the Wizards from settling the issue near the end of regulation in Tony Cheng's neighborhood. After making the block, Pierce then hit the game-tying 3-pointer over Jordan.
The Wizards persevered anyway, as Collins noted. That was the point of the exercise, the only point with a team as flawed as this one.
Collins bristled around one inquisitor who apparently was obsessed with Jordan's 38-year-old legs. What is there to resolve with his comeback? Jordan is not what he once was, but he is still an effective player. On some nights, if his shot is dropping, he is one of the best. Consistency goes with the legs.
The task before Collins remains formidable, and any respite is desirable, no matter how it is fashioned. The reality starts anew tomorrow night in Cleveland, a winnable date.
There are precious few of them for Collins and the Wizards.

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