- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 16, 2002

PHOENIX He's done this before. Against Cleveland. Against New York. And now against Phoenix.

With the Washington Wizards needing a basket in a desperation situation, Michael Jordan delivered again. Jordan's 15-footer over the outstretched arm of Shawn Marion swished through the net with 0.2 seconds remaining, giving the Wizards a 97-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

The Wizards were in position to win this game because of a questionable foul against Tyrone Nesby. Nesby was called for brushing against Stephon Marbury's elbow with 5.6 seconds left. Marbury hit one of the two free throws and cleared the way for Jordan's heroics.

Popeye Jones triggered the play from the sideline, and everyone knew that Jordan was getting the ball, which he did. Dribbling to his right, Jordan faked twice, rose up, let fly and put the game on ice.

Jordan, who finished with 22 points, missed his two previous shots before pulling the trigger on the game-winner.

"Yeah, but Michael doesn't remember any of that," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "That's the big thing about Michael. Michael thinks that every one he's going to take, he's going to make. What he does is he gives our team a belief that they have a chance to win games like that."

Said Phoenix coach Scott Skiles: "His will alone allows him to do stuff out there that most players can't hold a candle to. I've played against him so many times that I'm amazed by anything he does. I thought we did a pretty good job on him."

Actually there were two options, and Richard Hamilton (29 points) was the other. If neither was available, the Wizards still had another timeout.

"That's why you've gotta give Popeye some big-time credit there," Collins said.

Said Jones: "I like taking it out. And everybody in the building knows who's going to get it from there."

It would have been a tragedy had the game been decided by Nesby's foul because it was, at best, a casual brush. And Nesby had a huge game, finishing with a season-high 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Marbury led the Suns (25-26) with 30 points and six assists.

The Wizards needed a win. In their two previous games on this mini-tour of the Western Conference, the Wizards had been pretty much defenseless, giving up 103 and 109 points in losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento, respectively.

That usually spells trouble for the Wizards, who are 2-14 in games in which they allowed their opponents to break 100. And even though the Suns didn't break that barrier, this one almost slipped away.

After Jordan missed an 18-footer with 42.8 seconds left, Marbury took Nesby off the dribble and penetrated to the basket for a layup that inched the Suns ahead 95-93. Following a timeout, Nesby followed Jordan's missed jumper with a putback slam that knotted the score and forced the Suns to call timeout.

When play resumed, the Suns called a play for Marbury, who was isolated against Nesby. Referee Jason Phillips called the questionable foul second later, setting the stage for Jordan's latest miracle.

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