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Magic win; hurting Jordan might be forced to sit

1/4/2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael Jordan's knee is buckling under the
strain, and he's going home to Chicago for help.

Playing his fourth game in five nights, Jordan faded badly in
the second half and was taken out of the game early in Saturday
night's 96-87 loss to the Orlando Magic.

Jordan has barely been able to practice for at least a week
because of tendinitis in his right knee, which bothered him during
his summer comeback workouts and flared up again during training
camp. He has already had the knee drained once, and he is going to
Chicago on Sunday to see the former Bulls team physician, Dr. John
Heffron.

"I just developed some fluid on my knee, and I think it's about
time to pay attention to it so it won't linger all season long,"
Jordan said. "I don't think it's going to be something that's
going to linger. I have to make sure there's no ligament damage,
and get it treated, get it drained and see what the doctors say I
have to do and see if I can get rid of it."

When he announced his comeback, Jordan said he planned to play
all 82 games, despite several physical setbacks that took a toll on
his 38-year-old body. Now he says he reluctantly might have to sit
out a game or two.

"If (the doctors) come to an agreement tomorrow, I may,"
Jordan said. "It's early in the season. I don't want to. I'd
rather continue to play. But if it's not going to get any better
other than me sitting out -- long-term, I want to play later in the
season."

Jordan last missed a game due to injury on March 5, 1993,
against San Antonio. He was hospitalized with a foot infection and
missed two games. The Wizards have two days off before a Tuesday
game in San Antonio, the start of a four-game road trip.

Jordan's aches and pain made "young dog" Tracy McGrady the
winner in the first Jordan-McGrady matchup of the year.

Matched one-on-one against Jordan on national television,
McGrady scored 16 of his 26 points in the second half. Jordan
didn't have the legs to guard McGrady after halftime, and McGrady
limited Jordan to 2-for-12 shooting in the second half.

Jordan, who had McGrady in mind when he said the "young dogs"
would be chasing him this season, shot 6-for-19 for the game and
missed all four shots he took in the fourth quarter. He finished
with 15 points in 33 minutes, leaving with 3:50 to play and the
Wizards trailing by 13.

"I had to take him out," coach Doug Collins said. "I know he
wanted to play. I wasn't going to let him do that. I love him too
much. I know he's got will and determination and all those things,
but I knew he was playing on one leg and I wasn't going to let him
do that."

Jordan was even outscored by a player one year older and with
more wear and tear: 39-year-old Patrick Ewing had 18 points and 12
rebounds in a reserve role for Orlando.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points, making 11 of 12 free throws,
to lead the Wizards. Rookie Brendan Haywood came off the bench to
score 18 points.

Darrell Armstrong had 17 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds
for Orlando.

Two vital stretches gave the Magic an 11-point lead at the half.
McGrady scored three strong inside baskets while Jordan was
temporarily out of the game after being poked in the eye, then poor
Wizards defense and a turnover by Hamilton gave Orlando five points
in the final five seconds to make the score 50-39 at the break.

The Wizards got as close as five in the third quarter, but
back-to-back turnovers by Christian Laettner and Jordan kept them
from getting closer. The Magic scored the next eight points -- four
by McGrady, four by Ewing -- and led 72-61 going into the fourth.

So, bad knee or not, Round One goes to McGrady.

"The torch is lit," Armstrong said. "He's trying to take over
that torch, and that's good. Maybe the torch got passed a little
bit tonight, but Jordan is still Jordan."

Game notes
Grant Hill missed his second game in a row with bone spurs
in his surgically repaired left ankle. ... The Wizards are 0-11
when trailing after three quarters. ... His knee problem aside,
Jordan said the Wizards met their goal of going 2-2 this week. "I
think this is a good week for us to turn us around and head us in
the right direction," he said.