- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 30, 2002

Seen and heard last night at MCI Center:

COLLINS GAGGED? Don't look for any more surprise Michael Jordan news from coach Doug Collins.

Two days after he caused a stir by saying he'd be surprised if Jordan plays next season, Collins said he now has been given a gag order on the subject, according to the Associated Press. "I was told to leave that alone by the organization," said Collins, when asked about a timetable for Jordan's decision. "No more talk of that."

Collins did try once more to explain his original comment.

"Everybody got caught up when I said I'd be surprised if he came back," Collins said before the game. "I was surprised he played this year. He's surprised me a lot."

BACK, BUT BARELY Tyronn Lue returned to the Wizards after missing Wednesday's game with Denver due to a sinus condition and a touch of the flu.

Lue got sick in Toronto and had been bed-ridden for the last three days, spending as many as 18 hours in bed. During that time, he dropped six pounds and saw his temperature reach 101 degrees.

"I've never felt like that in my life," Lue said. "I'm still not 100 percent, but at this time of the season that doesn't mean anything. I'll give what I can."

CRUCIAL TIME IS HERE Collins acknowledged before the game that it is truly now or never for this season's Wizards, who are 1½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

"You've got these three games [vs. Milwaukee, Dallas and Los Angeles Lakers], and then you go on the road to Milwaukee and Charlotte," Collins said. "You start looking at anything more than 41 losses, and you are in trouble. From our standpoint, we are looking at three losses and then not being able to lose anymore."

Collins admitted the Wizards have the toughest schedule of any of the teams still battling for the final spot, such as Toronto and Indiana, which is currently eighth. What makes the Wizards' schedule even more daunting is that the Western Conference teams they play in coming days are jostling for position atop the standings.

"It might not be so bad if these guys weren't coming in here trying to improve their standing in the playoffs," Collins said, "but everybody's got something to play for now."

John N. Mitchell


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