- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Michael Jordan still might consider Chicago home, but MCI Center appears pretty comfy for the soon-to-be 40-year-old these days.
In fact, Jordan's numbers through 26 home dates are significantly better in the District than on the road, a trend that perhaps has been disappointing for fans around the league hoping for one last look at the player widely regarded as the best of all time but a treat for Wizards season ticket holders.
Jordan, who will celebrate his 40th birthday Feb. 17 with a home game against the Toronto Raptors, has averaged only 18.7 points this season, far off his career mark, an all-time best 30.4. But at MCI Jordan is putting up numbers deserving of his All-Star selection, averaging 21.5 points while shooting 48.6 percent (226-for-465) from the floor.
Conversely, his numbers fall off on the road, where he averages 15.2 points. His accuracy suffers, too, in the Wizards' road blue. Jordan is shooting just 38.2 percent away from MCI Center (140-for-366).
Jordan has scored 20 points or more on the road just six times. His best outing on the road this season came Dec.17 at Atlanta, where he went for 32 points on 12-for-18 shooting. By the same token, Jordan's worst performances have come on the road, including a 1-for-9, two-point effort two days before that against Toronto. Toronto has been particularly hard on Jordan this year. In the season opener there, Jordan scored just eight points on 4-for-14 shooting.
"It's always easier to get it done at home," Wizards coach Doug Collins said earlier this year. "You're at home, sleeping in your own bed, eating your own food. Those are circumstances that are better suited for good performances. That's why in this league it's so important to protect your home."
Saturday night, when the Wizards played host to New Orleans without the injured Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes, Jordan again defied Father Time. He blistered the befuddled Hornets for 45 points on 18-for-33 shooting.
That marked the second time this season Jordan has scored more than 40 points. The first came against Indiana at, of course, MCI Center, where he had 41 on 14-for-26 shooting in a 107-104 overtime victory Jan. 4.
Meanwhile, at home he's scored 25 or more 10 times. All five of his 40-plus points performances last season, his first with the Wizards, came at MCI Center.
"You never know what could happen on a given night," Jordan said after the Hornets game. "The unknown is something that is intriguing me the most. Tonight, with a couple of guys out, no one knew what could happen. I felt very comfortable, and I felt very comfortable coming into the arena feeling really good about this."
Jordan's offensive eruption had MCI Center bursting with energy. He went for 16 points in the first quarter and 23 by halftime. That he went on to have his best offensive performance of the season struck some by surprise but not New Orleans' Jamal Mashburn.
"He's Michael Jordan," Mashburn said. "A lot of people talk about his age and everything, but the guy can still play. It's not a surprise to me that he can get 40 on any given night. He's an exceptional player. You don't get 30,000-plus points and not know how to play."

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