- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2001

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. The execution that the Washington Wizards expected to see last night against the injury-depleted Philadelphia 76ers was absent at times and invisible when it mattered most.

The Wizards scored a paltry 11 points in the fourth quarter with Michael Jordan on the bench on the way to a 91-87 loss at Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State University. The loss dropped their preseason record to 1-4.

"The fourth quarter was a disaster," said Jordan, who sat at the end of the bench for the final 12 minutes. "They didn't execute properly and obviously didn't have any cohesiveness. No one seemed to take control in the fourth quarter."

That actually could have been said of both teams. Although the Wizards shot a horrendous 5-for-18 in the fourth, Philadelphia was not much better, connecting on 6-for-18. The difference was that Philadelphia got to the line and made its free throws (9-for-10). The Wizards, leading 76-70 at the end of three quarters, were just were just 1-for-4 from the line down the stretch.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points for the Wizards. Jordan added 17 points and Courtney Alexander had 14.

Raja Bell, who will come off the 76ers' bench when the season begins, led the Sixers (1-5) with 18 points. Center Dikembe Mutombo added 17 as did Speedy Claxton, who will also come off the bench this season.

Although there are numerous subplots developing during the Wizards preseason apart from Jordan, a new one came to light even before the game started.

Wizards coach Doug Collins, addressing the media, was highly critical of the play of top pick Kwame Brown.

Recently things have not come easily for Brown. In the two previous games, losses to Detroit and New Jersey, respectively, Brown looked lost at both ends of the court. Offensively he was a combined 1-for 8 from the field. And underneath the basket, where they need for him to be physical, Brown managed to pull down just one rebound while playing a combined 37 minutes.

Brown was solid last night, going 4-for-5 from the field for eight points in 24 minutes. His six rebounds ranked second among the Wizards, who were led by Jahidi White's game-high nine. Collins attributed the rookie's recent fall off to the fact that he was in high school this time last year. Brown has gained about 15 pounds since the Wizards drafted him and by his own admission he is not in shape.

Yesterday Collins hammered home that point.

"I don't expect him to know the NBA, but I do expect him to be in shape," Collins said. "He's in great shape to play a high school game tomorrow night.

That won't do, particularly since the Wizards have another game tonight in Greenville, S.C., against the New Jersey Nets.

Last night Brown, who has started one game in the preseason so far, came off the bench. He didn't get into the game until the second half, and at times last night he was handed the difficult assignment of Dikembe Mutombo. Brown's points included a nice dunk off of a feed from Jordan early, and he canned a jumper with 12.4 left in the game to pull Washington to within 89-87.

Collins expects Brown to come around. He's knows it won't happen as quickly as he would like, considering the injuries and the other shortcomings in the frontcourt. But he also suggested that Brown might need to slightly adjust his attitude to make the process happen more quickly.

"Oh, he's got talent. But he's got to get so frustrated and so disappointed that he's willing to listen and want to be taught," Collins said. "Right now he's pretty stubborn. Sometimes you have to have it crumble down on you and then be willing to listen. I just think he's so strong willed, which is great. I love that characteristic. But he has to be more willing to listen."

Going into last night's game, the Wizards' primary mission was to demonstrate that they could play well and be effective when Jordan is not on the court. Hamilton, who missed the team's last game against New Jersey with a bruised right elbow, went 5-for-7 for 11 points in the first half. Jordan scored 12 points as the Wizards trailed 52-47 at halftime.

Philadelphia, the defending Eastern Conference champions, doesn't look anything like the team that faced the Los Angeles Lakers last year in the finals. The 76ers were playing their sixth game of the preseason without league MVP Allen Iverson, top sixth man Aaron McKie and starting point guard Eric Snow.

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