<
>

Hamilton scores 34, but Wiz lose Laettner to broken leg

1/4/2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The one-two punch of Richard Hamilton and
Michael Jordan knocked out the tired New York Knicks, giving the
Washington Wizards their fifth straight victory.

Hamilton scored 27 of his season-high 34 points in the first
half, then Jordan took over with eight of his 19 points in the
third quarter as the Wizards won 96-80 Friday night.

"When Rip and Michael give us 50 points, we're tough,"
Washington coach Doug Collins said.

The Wizards will have to play without forward Christian Laettner
for at least a month. Laettner, the only Wizards player to start
all 22 games this season, broke his left leg going for a rebound in
the first quarter.

"It comes at a bad time," Collins said, "because now we're
playing our best basketball."

Hamilton, who has outscored Jordan during the winning streak,
made 14 of 24 shots and had seven assists and five rebounds. After
Hamilton's 11-for-15 first half gave the Wizards a 53-40 lead, New
York coach Don Chaney put Latrell Sprewell on Hamilton instead of
Jordan.

That's when Jordan got going, scoring eight of the Wizards' 10
points during one stretch as the lead stayed in the 13-to-18-point
range the entire quarter. Jordan finished 8-for-19 with six assists
and six rebounds but also a team-high five turnovers.

Over the five wins, Hamilton and Jordan are averaging a combined
46.2 points, with Hamilton at 26.4 points and Jordan at 19.8.

"I've been waiting for this time to come," Jordan said, "when
the guys step up and fulfill their roles."

Othella Harrington scored 18 to lead the Knicks, who were out of
it by halftime as they lost their third straight. They are 1-3
under Chaney since Jeff Van Gundy's resignation, and they were
obviously weary after arriving early in the morning after a game in
Detroit the previous night.

"We need rest," Chaney said. "I didn't get to bed till about
9:30. It was tough. I'm sure our players are hurting right now
because we weren't on our game. I was watching our shooters shoot,
and they weren't even coming close. We were a step slow and we had
no rhythm. There were just too many signs of fatigue."

Added Collins: "In fairness to the Knicks, this was a
scheduling loss."

The Knicks never got closer than 12 in the ragged fourth
quarter, and Chaney had his starters out of the game by the
eight-minute mark. The Wizards improved 9-0 when leading after
three quarters.

It was a long way from the season opener, when both teams were
disappointingly mediocre in the much-anticipated first game of
Jordan's comeback. The Knicks won that game by two points, a
send-off to the Wizards' 2-9 start. Now the Wizards (10-12) are
only a half-game behind the Knicks (11-12) in the Atlantic
Division.

The Wizards took command when Hamilton scored 10 and Jordan had
five to account for all the points in a 15-3 second-quarter run
that gave the Wizards at 46-32 lead.

The Knicks were never in it because they couldn't shoot. At the
half, Sprewell was 2-for-7; Kurt Thomas was 3-for-9; Allan Houston
4-for-9. The only hot hand belonged to Harrington, who was 8-for-11
for the game.

Game notes
With Laettner hurt, the Wizards activated Bobby Simmons,
who had been on the injured list with a sore knee. ... The Knicks
had won five straight against the Wizards, including all four
meetings last season. ... The Wizards' five-game winning streak
matches their season high from last season, when won they won only
19 games. ... Harrington's 18 points matched his season high.