- The Washington Times - Monday, March 4, 2002

The Washington Wizards proved they can win without Michael Jordan, though it did take a casting call.
Now auditioning for minutes as Jordan's stand-in: Courtney Alexander.
Alexander, who was thrust into the starting lineup because of Richard Hamilton's sudden stomach virus, made a case for himself last night.
Alexander scored a season-high 32 points to lead the Wizards to a 107-102 overtime win over the Orlando Magic before 20,674 at MCI Center.
Afterward, Wizards coach Doug Collins called it "the biggest win of the season." Behind Alexander, who made 13 of 22 shots from the field, the Wizards (28-30) snapped a seven-game losing streak. Alexander's 32 points were just one point shy of matching his career high set against the Toronto Raptors last April 18.
"The opportunity was there for me, and I seized it," Alexander said.
Collins said the opportunity was there since the opening game, which Alexander started. Alexander's spotty play and poor jump shot earned himself a spot on the bench. This was just the fifth start of the season for Alexander.
"It's called being ready," Collins said. "I think what you see is that Courtney is the guy who can score points. When Rip and Michael come back, be able to implement that into what we're doing. I don't want this to be a one-shot deal. I want him to grow from this. I want him to feel good about this. He's never been in doghouses. I don't put guys in doghouses."
Before Alexander resurfaced last night, the Wizards had gone 0-4 without Jordan.
At times during this game, Alexander was unstoppable. Everything the former Virginia and Fresno State player put up went in. He was making pull-up, fadeaway jumpers from 20 feet. Besides a dunk and a couple layups, most of Alexander's points came off his sizzling jump shot.
"Mike and Rip weren't playing, so if [Alexander] made a mistake or two or took a bad shot, Doug couldn't sub in for him real fast," said Wizards forward Christian Laettner, who nearly recorded a triple-double with 12 points, a career-high nine assists and eight rebounds. "Courtney is a scorer, so sometimes you have to live with a bad shot."
On the other bench, Tracy McGrady, the Magic's leading scorer at 24.9 points a game, was a nonfactor in the first half. He missed all nine shots he took from the field. McGrady made three of four foul shots for his only points of the half. Perhaps to lessen the effect of his poor shooting, McGrady turned into a point guard and recorded five assists in the half.
Then McGrady erupted. With his team down 49-39 at halftime, McGrady took over in the third quarter. McGrady scored 15 points in the period all in a span of 7:12. McGrady broke out his complete repertoire and showed why many consider him one of the top five players in the NBA.
Alexander hit a rainbow pull-up jumper just inside the foul line over McGrady with 47 seconds left in regulation that tied the game at 93-93. Wizards guard Chris Whitney, who finished with 20 points, made two free throws with 12 seconds left that gave the Wizards a 95-93 lead.
A Magic timeout gave Orlando the ball at midcourt. Orlando designed a play to free up dangerous 3-point shooter Pat Garrity from behind the arc.
The 6-foot-11 Laettner denied Garrity from behind the arc, but Garrity faked and drove the lane for a two-handed dunk with 5.1 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
In the overtime, the Wizards outscored the Magic 10-5 in the final 3:39 after the game was tied 97-97. Wizards forward Tyrone Nesby scored six of his 10 points in the overtime. McGrady missed three of four free throws in the extra period.

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