- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

The Washington Wizards had been here before, and against this very team.
Last year at MCI Center, the Wizards allowed the then-lowly Los Angeles Clippers to win by blowing a 19-point third quarter lead. But that game had historical ramifications. That defeat, some would say, provided the impetus for Michael Jordan to end his retirement.
Last night the Wizards again went cold late, blowing 12-point lead. But instead of crumbling, the Wizards stiffened, shutting the Clippers down late to secure their fourth win in a row and their seventh consecutive home victory with a 96-88 win over the Los Angeles Clippers before a capacity crowd of 20,674 at MCI Center.
Michael Jordan overcame a bad shooting night (9-for-24) to come within two assists of a triple double. Jordan finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jordan led four players in double-figures scoring. Chris Whitney also scored 18. Popeye Jones finished with 16, as did Hubert Davis, who went scoreless in the first half.
The win was the Wizards' 13th in their last 15 games.
After a sluggish first half, The Wizards came to life following a timeout in which Collins tore into Jahidi White for making a defensive mistake. Collins told White to apologize to Jordan, which he did, for not picking up a defensive assignment.
When play resumed with 8:11 remaining and the Wizards leading 50-49, the Wizards had new life. Instead of looking like the older of the two teams, the Wizards were beating the Clippers, the second youngest team in the league, to lose balls, at times diving after them on the floor.
And nobody was any more effective than Davis. Scoreless in the first half, Davis erupted for 14 points as the Wizards outscored the Clippers 29-15 for a 70-58 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
That lead did not last long, though. With former Wizard Jeff McInnis leading the charge, the Clippers mounted a furious rally. And following a pair of baskets by reserve forward Eric Piatkowski, the second of which was a 3-pointer, the Wizards, reeling from a 19-9 run, were clinging to a 79-77 lead and had to call a timeout with 4:55 left.
The Wizards scored 10 unanswered points, forging a 89-77 lead to put the game away.
McInnis, a former Wizards point guard, led the Clippers (18-17) with 27 points and five assists. Elton Brand finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Corey Maggette added 10 points in defeat.
Los Angeles was playing the second of a six-game eastern swing, having lost the night before to Philadelphia by 24 points.
Their mission became even more complicated when they lost starting small forward Lamar Odom three minutes into the second quarter with what was explained as a stomach flu.
The Wizards struggled big time from the floor in the first quarter, making just 33.3 percent of their shots. Meanwhile, the young and spry Clippers cruised up and down the court, connecting on 12 of 21 shots.
They took their largest lead of the quarter, 25-15, on back-to-back baskets from McInnis and Michael Olowokandi.
The Wizards trailed by 25-17 at the end of the quarter, but they quickly got back into the game mostly due to the play of their reserves.
In an 11-5 run that pulled the Wizards to within 30-28, Tyronn Lue and Brendan Haywood scored seven points.
Jordan, who missed all but one of his eight shots in the first quarter, made sure the Wizards stayed in striking distance as halftime approached. With Washington looking up at a Los Angeles 34-30 lead, Jordan scored eight of the Wizards' final 11 points to keep the Wizards close (43-41) at halftime.


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