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For second straight game, Alexander top Wizard

3/6/2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Washington Wizards are a different team
without Michael Jordan. They are faster, more team-oriented and --
dare anyone say it? -- more entertaining.

With the Jordan-less game plan now firmly in place, the Wizards
won their second straight Tuesday night, beating the Chicago Bulls
115-90. Ten players played 17 minutes or more as Washington shot a
season-high 57 percent and scored its season high in points while
committing just nine turnovers.

"I'm sure it is more fun to watch, and it's more fun to play,"
said point guard Chris Whitney, who had 13 points and six assists.

"At times when we're out there with Michael, he's so good that
we kind of defer to him. Defenses can stack up against us. But now
we're getting easy baskets and getting the ball to the post. We're
definitely adjusting to this. What I'm happy is we're pushing the
ball and running, but we're not turning the ball over."

Reserve Courtney Alexander was instant offense with 26 points on
9-for-11 shooting, leading the Wizards in scoring for the second
consecutive game. Inconsistency had been Alexander's catchword all
season.

"This is a big boost for him," coach Doug Collins said. "He's
been very disappointed this year. He's been down, and the greatest
thing he can do now is finish the season off wonderfully for us."

Jordan, recovering from knee surgery, again watched the game on
television from the locker room. He has missed four games, and the
Wizards have defied predictions of doom by going 2-2 to stay just
one game below .500.

Collins indicated before the game that Jordan will probably miss
at least nine more games, including the six-game West Coast road
trip later this month.

"Michael charted the course for this," Collins said. "We
wouldn't be in this position right now if it weren't for Michael.
Michael's asking these guys to play like this, so when he comes
back we're still in the playoff race."

The Wizards were lackluster in a 90-81 loss at Chicago last
week, but were without centers Jahidi White and Brendan Haywood.
White and Haywood were back Tuesday, and the Bulls weren't able to
dominate inside.

In fact, other than 31 points from Jalen Rose, the Bulls didn't
do much at all.

"We're about a step slow," coach Bill Cartwright said. "One
hundred points is unacceptable; 115 points is ridiculous. In order
for us to compete in this league, we've got to be able to defend.
We did a poor job on screen and rolls. We did a poor job on
everything. We played some zone; that was awful. I'd like to
attribute it to a bad night, but it's gone on too long."

The Wizards took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and
kept the Bulls at bay the rest of the game. The closest Chicago
threat came when Rose hit a 3-pointer early in the third quarter to
cut the lead to six. But Richard Hamilton had a three-point play
two minutes later to start a 9-2 run.

Hamilton, who missed Sunday's victory over Orlando with a nasty
stomach virus, scored 15 points. The Wizards had a 47-29 rebound
advantage and outscored the Bulls 52-30 in the paint.

Alexander had 32 in the overtime victory over Orlando on Sunday,
when both Jordan and Hamilton were out. Alexander didn't start this
game because Hamilton was back, but he was a sparkplug with an
assist in his first possession and 12 points in his first nine
minutes on the court.

As the players entered the locker room, Jordan congratulated
them and told them to "keep it up."

"That's all he needed to say," forward Tyrone Nesby said.

Added Collins: "You know he likes to beat Chicago."

Game notes
The Wizards said they were somewhat motivated by Marcus
Fizer's decision to take a shot in the waning seconds of the Bulls'
victory in Chicago last week. "If they took offense, that's
great," Collins said. "When I played, they punched you." ...
Chicago forward Tyson Chandler missed his second consecutive game
with a hyperextended left pinky. ... Washington center White had
missed three games with a shoulder strain. Rookie forward Kwame
Brown sat out with the flu. Tyronn Lue played despite feeling sick
and had 11 points and seven assists. "I told him I hope he's sick
the rest of the year," Collins said, "because this was his best
game." ... The Bulls continued their struggles from 3-point range,
going 2-for-11. They are 10-for-40 in their last four games. ...
Collins on Jordan: "Michael couldn't stand to sit out there and
watch. First of all, everything would be about him being out there
and stuff, and he doesn't want that to happen. I will say that the
other night after we beat Orlando, he was first one at the door and
was excited as I've ever seen him about the win. The players, I
think it meant a lot to them."