- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

CHICAGO — After his team played its worst offensive game of the season and turned the ball over in an epidemic-like manner in the second half, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan blamed it on lazy practice sessions the day before and yesterday morning.

The Chicago Bulls, despite shooting just 38 percent from the floor, held the Wizards to their lowest scoring output of the season, handing them a 90-79 setback at sold-out United Center as the Wizards (19-22) reached the midpoint of the season.

In his shortest post-game press conference of the season, Jordan took the blame for the Wizards’ performance.

“They made us miss shots,” Jordan said of the Bulls, who held the Wizards to just 36 percent shooting. “We didn’t execute well enough. We didn’t stay organized. We didn’t get rebounds. We threw the ball away. We didn’t contain anybody.

“So frankly, I did a poor coaching job. Our last practice and our last shootaround just weren’t serious. I allowed things to happen on the floor that I should have stopped and I’ll make sure it won’t happen again.”

Then Jordan vanished back into the locker room.

The Wizards won’t get an immediate chance to correct their bad practice habits because they have a game tonight against Charlotte, which beat the Wizards earlier this season. In that game, the Wizards scored just 82 points.

“We could have practiced better, definitely,” guard Antonio Daniels said. “I don’t think we’re feeling complacent. We just didn’t practice as hard as we needed to in order to win this game.”

Bad practice aside, the Wizards played an awful game. Although they had four players in double figures — led by Gilbert Arenas’ 23 points — Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison combined to make just 21 of 61 field goals.

Butler also had a career-high 16 rebounds.

The Wizards didn’t make nearly as many trips to the free throw line (13 of 20) as did the Bulls (26 of 34). Of the Wizards’ 17 turnovers, 14 of them came in the second half.

But as bad as they were — and they never led in the game — they were still in position to win it after the Bulls went more than six minutes without a field goal to start the fourth.

This allowed the Wizards to whittle a 10-point lead down to just 69-67 with 6:19 left.

But the Bulls, led by Ben Gordon’s 26 points, made five straight layups — including a three-point play — pushing their lead back to 80-71.

The result marked the second time this season the Bulls have outplayed the Wizards down the stretch. When the teams met at MCI Center on Dec. 10, the Bulls went on a 16-0 run in the final 2:49 of a 118-111 Washington loss.

Forward Tyson Chandler had 12 points and a season-high 20 rebounds for the Bulls (19-23).

Last night marked the Wizards’ first appearance at United Center since Arenas drained an improbable jumper with time running out to give the Wizards a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series that the Wizards in six games.

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