- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) After receiving a direct challenge from coach Doug Collins before the game, the Washington Wizards responded with a 99-96 victory over the Golden State Warriors Monday night.
Playing their fourth game of a seven-game road trip all without Michael Jordan Collins told his players they needed to win their next two games or kiss the NBA playoffs goodbye.
"We had to take care of business," Chris Whitney said.
Whitney's 3-pointer with 12.8 seconds left gave Washington its first lead of the fourth quarter, 97-96. He added a pair of free throws and finished with 20 points.
Collins drew up a play for Whitney's go-ahead basket during a timeout. The ball was supposed to go to Richard Hamilton, but instead Christian Laettner put a big screen on Golden State's Gilbert Arenas, freeing Whitney for a wide-open shot.
Hamilton scored 17 points, Tyron Nesby 15, Popeye Jones 12 and Courtney Alexander 10 for the Wizards.
"Coach drew it up perfectly," Whitney said. "I just had to shoot it. I felt confident when I got it, and when it left my hands I had a good feeling it was going to drop."
After Arenas was called for a charging into Jones with 6.7 seconds left, Whitney hit two free throws with 5.9 remaining. A desperation 3-pointer by Arenas fell well short, giving the Wizards their fourth win in 12 tries without Jordan.
The rookie backcourt of Arenas and Jason Richardson carried the Warriors. Arenas scored a career-high 25 and Richardson had 21, followed by Antawn Jamison with 16.
"We played so hard, but it must be a conspiracy," Arenas said. "Jordan has too much power. He must have called the refs or something because that [charging foul] was obviously a [defensive] foul."
Washington is 2 games behind the Charlotte Hornets for the final playoff spot in the East with 15 games remaining.
"I told our guys that they've worked too hard this season to lose this game. They believed we were going to win," Collins said.
The Wizards' reserves outscored the Warriors' backups 35-8 in the first half while Washington was taking a 56-54 lead.
Nesby, who finished with 10 rebounds, and Kwame Brown each went 4-for-5 as Washington hit 52 percent of its shots in the first half. The Warriors made 51 percent, including 4-for-4 by Arenas, who then scored 11 points in the first 5:20 of the third quarter.
There were four ties and six lead changes in the third quarter, and a four-point play by Chris Mills helped give Golden State a 79-78 lead heading into the fourth. The Warriors held the lead until Whitney's late 3-pointer.


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