7:30 PM ET, November 14, 2002
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a game that already had three players 39 or older, Washington Wizards coach Doug Collins dusted off one more fossil for the rough-and-tumble stretch run.
Charles Oakley, who hadn't played since a brief appearance in the season opener, entered the game in the fourth quarter and became a defensive enforcer right up to the final buzzer, twice disrupting DeShawn Stevenson's potential game-tying shot in the Washington Wizards' 105-102 victory over the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.
"I'm old,'' said Oakley, who turns 39 next month, "but I still have a feel for the game. I'm a warrior. I want to play, and I just wait for my turn.''
But it was Oakley who made the difference after the Wizards had blown a 21-point first-half lead. Utah led by five when Oakley got off the bench with 6:56 left -- to huge cheers from the crowd.
"I wanted somebody who was going to keep Karl Malone from just laying the ball in the basket, because he was having his way,'' Collins said. "I knew the minute Oak stood up it would rev up the crowd. I just hoped we would get good results. Sometimes you've got to gamble as a coach, and we were going south fast.''
There were two double technicals after Oakley entered. He didn't get either, but his presence had turned up the intensity. He also stole the ball from John Stockton (41 in March) to set up a layup for Jordan that put the Wizards up by five with two minutes left.
The Jazz cut it to three and had a chance to tie on their final possession, but Oakley twice knocked the ball out of Stevenson's hands at the 3-point arc. Stevenson never got off the shot.
"He brings toughness, and he's got the quickest hands in the NBA. Still,'' Collins said. "Did you see the last two plays he made? Like a cat.''
Jordan called Oakley his "Breakfast Club workout guy.''
"He's there in the morning,'' Jordan said. "He's been patiently waiting his chance. Tonight we needed him.''
Oakley's big finish overshadowed Bryon Russell's revenge night. Russell, who played nine seasons for the Jazz before leaving as a free agent this summer, scored 10 of his 16 points in his first game against his old team. He and Matt Harpring had one of the double technicals.
"Every time we play them, we're going to whip 'em,'' Russell said. "We're going to play hard. I'm going to make sure of that.''
Malone (also 39) scored 26 points, and Stockton had 17 points and 11 assists before fouling out in the final minute.
"We didn't have a lot of enthusiasm,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "Just give me the ball and I'll do that instead of getting after people. ... Some guys look like they're trying to do us a favor if we ask them to run.''
Jordan made just 7 of 17 shots in 34 minutes. The Wizards went 36-for-39 from the free-throw line, although Tyronn Lue's two misses with 18.1 seconds were almost costly.
The Wizards built a big lead in a turnover-filled first half, but the Jazz closed the second quarter with a 19-6 run to trail 48-40. Washington had 11 turnovers at halftime, while Utah had 12, matching the number it had for the entire game in a victory at New York on Tuesday.
Stockton and Malone scored 16 of Utah's first 18 points to start the second half, and the Jazz took their first lead, 56-55, on Stockton's pull-up jumper with 6:29 left in the third.
Collins got his 300th career victory. He is 300-246. ... The Wizards had lost seven straight to the Jazz. ... Stockton passed Robert Parrish (45,074) to move into sixth place all-time in minutes played. ... The Wizards' 32 first-quarter points were a season high. ... Scott Padgett had seven points and six rebounds in the fourth quarter for Utah. ... The Jazz are 1-2 on their five-game East Coast road trip.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||36-73 (.493)||32-71 (.451)|
|3PM-3PA||4-10 (.400)||5-12 (.417)|
|FTM-FTA||26-30 (.867)||36-39 (.923)|
|Fast Break Points||5||5|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||32 (4/0)||25 (4/0)|