- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 6, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Charlotte Coliseum sold out months ago. When Michael Jordan didn't show, neither did the fans and that infuriated at least one of the Hornets.
Jamal Mashburn scored 27 points and Elden Campbell added 21 last night to lead Charlotte to a 97-91 victory over the Washington Wizards.
With Jordan out for the rest of the season and the Hornets trying to move to New Orleans, there were almost 9,000 no-shows at a game that sold out during the preseason.
Hornets captain David Wesley, who with five seasons has the longest tenure in Charlotte, was irritated by the apathy from the city especially since the Hornets are in the thick of the playoff race.
"For them not to be more down about us not staying here, it's going to be the biggest mistake Charlotte's made," said Wesley, the first player to speak out either way on the relocation issue. "If we go to the NBA Finals and this team moves, it's going to be a smack in the face to Charlotte."
It's plausible for the Hornets to go deep into the playoffs.
After hovering in the race while fighting through injuries most of the season, they've now moved into sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte also pulled within one game of fourth-place Orlando, which lost to the New Jersey Nets.
But their run could be their last in Charlotte if the NBA approves the move, which ownership says it needs to survive. Charlotte has pledged to build a new arena for the Hornets, but the deal New Orleans has offered is better.
"I don't know who's in charge or who's supposed to make those types of decisions, but from everybody that I talked to, it doesn't even seem like [Charlottes] in the race," Wesley said. "I was told Charlotte wouldn't get in a bidding war, well why not?
"It's a situation where if the Hornets leave, an NBA team can't come here. They won't get the Orlando Magic. a lot of people don't know that. They need to know we're not going to have another team here if we leave."
Washington, which has lost both of its games since Jordan went on the injured list Wednesday with a swollen right knee, fell to 8-21 since the All-Star break.
But coach Doug Collins took solace in a fourth-quarter rally that pulled the Wizards out of a 17-point hole and made the final score close.
"I was pleased in the fourth quarter with the way the guys played," Collins said. "Our guys played tough and I think it was the first time in four games that they played 12 full minutes of basketball."
Charlotte led almost the whole way, a stark contrast to the last meeting in December when Jordan humiliated the Hornets by scoring a season-high 51 points a franchise-record 34 in the first half in Washington's 107-90 win.
But Charlotte didn't have to deal with Jordan or many of the rest of the Wizards.
Forward Christian Laettner was a late scratch with back spasms, center Jahidi White picked up four fouls in a 2:32 stretch of the third quarter that limited his playing time to 16 minutes, and White and fellow starters Popeye Jones and Courtney Alexander combined to score just 12 points.
The Wizards hurt themselves at the free throw line, making just 17 of 34 attempts.
Richard Hamilton led Washington with 22 points. Chris Whitney and Kwame Brown scored 13 each.
Campbell came on strong one day after coach Paul Silas said he wasn't sure if Campbell would get his starting spot back.
Campbell missed five games, the first with a hamstring injury and the others because he left the team following a death in his family, and backup Jamaal Magloire averaged 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds while filling in.
But Campbell was aggressive against Washington, forcing his way inside often to draw fouls. He went 15 of 17 at the line and played 25 minutes.
Magloire had eight points and five rebounds in 23 minutes. Brown had 13 rebounds and Baron Davis had 12 assists.
Notes Silas praised rookie Kirk Haston, saying the first-round draft pick has improved dramatically over the season. Haston, who left Indiana after his junior season, has appeared in only 15 games, but Silas is confident he'll be a contributor next season. Magloire was called for a technical in the third quarter for taunting after he and White got tied up going after a rebound.

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