- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

PORTLAND, Ore The Washington Wizards kept their playoff hopes alive last night with a 95-91 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The victory ended the Wizards' four-game losing streak and moved them to within a half-game of the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Earlier in the day Milwaukee was destroyed by San Antonio 107-94, opening the window of opportunity for the Wizards to move up.
Crucial to the victory for the Wizards (33-37) was the play of Tyronn Lue, who was reinserted in the starting lineup. Lue finished with 21 points and five assists. He scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter.
Michael Jordan finished with 25 points and Jerry Stackhouse added 24.
The victory ended the Wizards' eight-game losing streak to the Blazers, and it improved their record on the road against the Western Conference to 2-9. It was also their first road win since Feb. 25.
Bonzi Wells led the Blazers (44-26) with 20 points.
After Washington built a lead that was mostly in double digits through three quarters, Portland scored six straight points to cut the Wizards' advantage to 75-68 with 8:43 left in the game.
But just after Wells closed the Washington lead to 83-80 on a pair of free throws, Washington got clutch, back-to-back baskets from Lue and a breakaway layup by Stackhouse that gave Washington a 86-80 lead and forced the Blazers to call timeout with 3:15 left.
Lue struck again when he hit an off-balance runner in the lane with time running down on the shot clock to give the Wizards a 91-85 lead.
After a timeout, Rasheed Wallace's baseline jumper pulled the Blazers to within four points. But Jordan closed the door on the Blazers with a jumper that made it 93-87.
Wizards coach Doug Collins has clearly gotten to the point where he is pulling out all the stops. Just two days after he said he wasn't going to tinker with his starting lineup, Collins trotted out a lineup with Jahidi White at center in place of Brendan Haywood, and Lue at point guard instead of regular starter Larry Hughes.
White, who fouled out with 1:30 left, finished with six points, five rebounds and four blocked shots
White made his presence felt very quickly in the first quarter, blocking a pair of shots and following up a Stackhouse miss with a thunderous one-handed dunk that extended the Wizards lead to 19-8.
However, Stackhouse and Jordan carried the load in the first quarter, combining for 19 of the Wizards' 23 points.
Washington, in fact, was the superior team in the first quarter all the way around, outscoring the Blazers 23-15 while connecting on 11 of 20 shots from the floor.
Washington continued to play with a cool efficiency into the second quarter. And even though it did let its 11-point first quarter lead slip away, it never got any lower than 30-27. Instead, the Wizards continued to play with poise. This resulted in them making 52.5 percent of their shots in the first half compared to the 42 percent the Blazers shot.
Going with Hughes off the bench seemed to have an added benefit as well. Hughes added nine points for the Wizards to support the 14 and 11 scored by Jordan and Stackhouse, respectively.
Caught up in their own dogfight with Minnesota for the fourth spot and home court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs, the Blazers were clearly struggling. Former Wizard Wallace led the starters with seven points. However, if not for the 10 points scored by reserve forward Zach Randolph, the Blazers might have trailed by more than 49-47 at the half.
Washington continued to maintain control of game into the third quarter, and with 7:54 left in the third Stackhouse boosted the lead to 59-46 with a running jumper.
Meanwhile the Blazers continued to have their troubles against the Wizards. This was best illustrated late in the quarter when Wells and Antonio Daniels bumbled away a fast break opportunity late in the quarter.

Note Late in the third quarter of last night's game, an anti-war protestor ran out onto the court with a sign that appeared to be painted on an apron that said, "No War." He was booed lustily by the crowd until security came and removed him from the court. There were at least two anti-war demonstrations in downtown Portland last night. … Last night's game would have been the last meeting between Jordan and his former Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen. Pippen missed the game and is out with an injured left knee.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide