- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 1, 2002

Michael Jordan's first start of the season did not have the ending he undoubtedly hoped it would.
Jordan, who started a game for the first time since Feb.24, 2002, committed a costly turnover in the final seconds as the Washington Wizards lost their sixth game in a row, 95-94 to the Philadelphia 76ers last night before the 50th consecutive sellout (20,173) at MCI Center.
"It was one of those situations where you cannot get a shot," Jordan said. "My last impression was to try and get to the hole and get fouled. When [Keith] Van Horn came over I thought [Bryon] Russell was open underneath the basket. But you've got to get a shot off."
Trying to penetrate a thicket of 76ers after a Philadelphia turnover with 5.4 seconds left, Jordan lost control of the ball. That was the deciding factor in a well-played game that was there for the Wizards to win.
It featured a scoring duel between Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, who finished with 35 points (12-for-27 from the field) and Jerry Stackhouse. Stackhouse, breaking out of a 13-for-50 shooting slump over three games, scored a season-high 38 points.
Juan Dixon contributed a season-high 18 points off the bench for the Wizards and played spirited defense against Iverson. Washington outrebounded the 76ers 37-31 and, despite 17 turnovers, protected the ball much better than it did in an earlier loss to the Sixers.
Philadelphia improved to 14-4, best in the Atlantic Division. The loss dropped Washington to 6-10. Since they started the season 6-4, their best 10-game start in 27 seasons, the Wizards have played inconsistently.
"It's disappointing because we fought and we fought hard," Stackhouse said. "We've had some difficulties the last five nights. We came in here to see what team would show up here tonight, and the right team showed up. But even when you play hard, compete and do a lot of things right, when you face a good team there is still a chance the odds can go against you, and tonight they did."
After Philadelphia's Greg Buckner tried to call a timeout with 5.4 seconds remaining as he fell out of bounds, which is an automatic turnover, Washington had one final chance for victory, but it didn't work out.
"This would have been a good win for us," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "It's been so long since we've won a game, we've forgotten what the taste of victory is like."
The Sixers started the Wizards on their losing streak when they defeated them 100-84 on Nov.17. In that game the Wizards became unraveled in the face of a Philadelphia trap that forced them into a season-high 23 turnovers, 14 coming on steals.
Philadelphia, by contrast, now has won seven games in a row and 10 of its last 11. Eric Snow added 16 points and six assists for the 76ers, who also got 13 points and nine rebounds from Todd MacCulloch. This negated mediocre nights for Van Horn and Aaron McKie, who combined to score 12 points.
In an attempt to match speed on speed early on, Collins went to Dixon early against Iverson, and Dixon handled himself well. Although Iverson had 17 points by halftime, Dixon helped harass him enough for the 76ers star to shoot just 5-for-13.
Dixon also helped provide an offensive punch that the Wizards have been seeking off the bench. Hitting mostly jumpers, the former Maryland star was 4-for-5 from the field for 11 points. Stackhouse had 13 and Jordan kicked in 12 in the first half.
Philadelphia, not recognized as one of the better shooting teams in the league, shot a surprisingly high 61 percent in the second quarter. But the 76ers' hot shooting didn't seem to bother the Wizards much. With the game tied 34-34, Washington used a 10-4 run to push its lead to 44-38 and had a 50-46 halftime edge.


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