- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Last night at MCI Center there was a team running the break with precision, making crisp passes and executing the coach's plan from start to finish.

And surprise of all surprises, that team, for a change, was the Washington Wizards.

Facing a Milwaukee Bucks team that peaked under coach George Karl two seasons ago when it reached the Eastern Conference finals, the Washington Wizards ended their longest losing streak of the season at six games, crushing the Bucks 103-78 at sold-out MCI Center.

It was a cathartic night for the Wizards, who had been stuck in a quagmire of losses that had them baffled over when they would end the losing.

"I told our coaches sitting on the bench that I'll just be glad when this game ends," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "Let's just get this thing over with. This league is a funny thing. When you're winning you don't take the time to enjoy it and when you're losing you don't think you're ever going to win again."

The Wizards (7-10) had not won a game since beating Miami on Nov. 26.

Everyone seemed happy. MCI Center celebrated its fifth anniversary, and Christian Laettner scored his 10,000th career point. And even though the final margin of victory was 25 points, had the Wizards not eased up it very well could have been a 35-point win.

Michael Jordan has one of those nights when Father Time seems to be working to his benefit. Jordan was pulled from the game with with more than nine minutes to play and with the Wizards cruising by 27 points.

By that time, Jordan had amassed a seemingly effortless 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

"This was one of those games where we really needed to win," Jordan, who scored 15 points in the second quarter, said. "I just tried to create. Milwaukee was not healthy so we gotta attack, attack, attack. I tried to carry that mentality, not just in the second quarter but throughout the whole game."

Bryon Russell finished with 16 points, and Etan Thomas came off the bench to tie a career-high with 14 points and grab seven rebounds. Russell, a free agent pickup this summer, said that now that the Wizards had finally ended their losing streak, now it was time to get on a roll.

"We've been stinking it up, but I think that this is going to be our month," Russell said. "I told the team that I think we're only going to lose about two or three games this month."

The Wizards next two games won't be easy. They play at Detroit tonight, where former Wizard Richard Hamilton will no doubt be looking forward to playing against his old team, and Friday they play at Orlando, a place where they always struggle.

The Wizards' effort was so good that they didn't need much from leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse, who finished with just 12 points. Larry Hughes finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

The Wizards dominated statistically, shooting much better from the field (46.3 to 37.3) and winning the battle of the boards 54-40.

The Bucks (8-9) were playing their fifth game without All-Star shooting guard Ray Allen. And even if coach George Karl made references to him playing like a girl last season, it was clear in the second quarter that the Bucks are not the same team without him.

And for what it's worth, they were also without fading forward Toni Kukoc (right thumb).

Forward Tim Thomas led the Bucks with 17 points. Michael Redd finished with 13. The only production the Bucks received from their bench was the 12 points provided by rookie Michael Haislip.

Milwaukee's bad day at the office began early. The second-best shooting team (behind Dallas) in the league, the Bucks made just 32 percent of their field goals in the first half.

Meanwhile, the Wizards heated up significantly at the end of the first quarter, which ended with the Wizards up by by just a point.

Jordan, making his second start of the season, looked completely acclimated to playing small forward, squeezing all 15 of his first half points into the quarter.

Part of the reasoning behind starting Jordan was that Collins now believes that Russell is better suited coming off the bench, and the first half seems to have proved him right.

Russell was second to Jordan in the half, scoring 14 points. During one stretch that bridged the first and second quarters, Russell and Jordan combined to score 27 consecutive points.

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