- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2002

WILMINGTON, N.C. With its favorite son on the bench in street clothes, the near-capacity crowd at Trask Coliseum had to find other ways to get excited during last night's Washington Wizards scrimmage.

Other than when Michael Jordan was introduced, the crowd got its kicks courtesy of a number of Wizards mainly Jerry Stackhouse, Jared Jeffries and Tyronn Lue and the whole squad put together a spirited effort much to the liking of coach Doug Collins.

"I liked how unselfish we played. I liked how quickly we got the ball up the floor. I felt energy. I loved our energy," Collins said. "I thought we had a lot of guys do a lot of good things."

The Wizards' nine-day training camp finishes up with a morning practice today before the team returns to Washington, where it opens the preseason tomorrow against Philadelphia.

Jeffries, whom Collins implored in practice just days ago to look for his shot more, had an all-around strong night and looked comfortable handling the ball and rebounding. He also dropped off several nice passes to cutting teammates.

"Your first couple days, you don't want to come out and have these guys thinking I was going to start [shooting]," said Jeffries, who was playfully booed by the crowd because his Indiana team knocked out UNC Wilmington in the 2002 NCAA tournament. "I kind of slowly got into a rhythm and looked for places to take my shots and learn where they're going to come from."

Stackhouse looked sharp and recorded the play of the night on an alley-oop from Juan Dixon in the second half. From the right side, Dixon lobbed a pass toward the hoop, where Stackhouse, also cutting from the right side, caught it over his left shoulder and slammed it home.

"It's my eighth training camp, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel," said Stackhouse, who had 13 points. "I just tried to do what I do, get in and create for guys, set the tone and get everyone involved."

Lue continued to display his excellent conditioning and quickness, several times beating defenders off the dribble. He did a good job getting his squad into its offensive set and also didn't hesitate to pull up for his jump shot.

The scrimmage consisted of two 20-minute games between white and blue squads with a running clock. Some players switched teams between games. The white squad, led by Jeffries, Brendan Haywood and Lue, won the first game 30-19. White, led by Stackhouse, Haywood and Dixon, won the second 31-15. Stackhouse led all scorers, while Haywood had 12 points and Kwame Brown had eight rebounds.

"We're playing against ourselves obviously, and sometimes that causes problems because everybody knows the plays. But it was fun," Jordan said. "I think guys are really starting to learn to play with each other. The continuity looked good."

Wizards owner Abe Pollin expects that continuity to produce a team that makes the playoffs and wins at least a first-round series, he told reporters last night.

"The first nine players we have tremendous depth," Pollin said. "When the game's close with five minutes to go, with Michael and Jerry Stackhouse in the game, we're going to win most of those games."

He also said that he would make a concerted effort not to make any trades that would put the Wizards over the luxury tax number this season.


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