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Jordan and Russell power Wizards past hurting Bucks

12/3/2002

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Trading spaces worked for Michael Jordan and
Bryon Russell, who together ran off 27 consecutive points to help
end the Washington Wizards' six-game losing streak.

Jordan scored 25 points in his second game as a starter, and the
man he replaced in the lineup, Russell, matched his season-high
with 16 points in a 103-78 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday
night.

''We've been stinking it up,'' Russell said. ''But I think we're
going to have a good month. I told the team, 'I feel like we're
only going to lose three or four games this month.' ''

Etan Thomas matched a career-high with 14 points and had seven
rebounds for the Wizards as coach Doug Collins relied on veterans
early but used his bench extensively. Jordan played 30 minutes in
the one-sided game and sat down for good early in the fourth quarter.

''It's just one of those games where we really needed a win,''
Jordan said. ''Milwaukee was not healthy, so we've got to attack,
attack, attack. I tried to carry that mentality.''

Tim Thomas scored a season-high 17 points for the Bucks, who
played without Ray Allen and Toni Kukoc. Milwaukee, one of the best
shooting teams in the league, shot just 37 percent. Michael Redd
was 6-for-16 from the field, Sam Cassell was 3-for-12, Anthony
Mason was 2-for-7, and Jason Caffey was 1-for-8.

''I had a bad game,'' Cassell said. ''With us being
short-handed, teams definitely are playing me differently. They're
not going to allow me to have open looks like I'm used to getting.
A lot of my things I've got to create for myself.''

Last week, Russell asked to be removed from the starting lineup
because his minutes were getting squeezed by Jordan's early entry
off the bench. With their roles reversed, both looked more
comfortable -- and they teamed up for the run that gave the Wizards
the lead for good.

Jordan and Russell scored 27 consecutive Wizards points from the
final minute of the first quarter through the first seven minutes
of the second quarter, including all the points in a 16-5 run that
put Washington ahead 42-29. Jordan scored 15 points in the second
quarter, and Russell went 4-for-4 with nine points.

''It's a change,'' Russell said. ''Tonight was a night we needed
someone to step up other than our starters. For us to win, we've got
to have more than our starters scoring. I just came out being
aggressive.''

By halftime, the score was 56-39. The Bucks never got closer
than 12 in the second half.

''We allowed (Jordan) to do whatever he wanted to,'' Cassell
said. ''If you don't challenge a guy like that, he'll eat you
alive.''

The Bucks played their fifth game without Allen, who has a
sprained right ankle, and their first without Kukoc, who had thumb
surgery Monday and is expected to miss up to six weeks.

Allen is eligible to come off the injured list for the game Thursday at Atlanta, but he has yet to resume practicing. Coach George
Karl said he'll get a gauge on Allen's status at practice
Wednesday.

''We got a break tonight, let's face it,'' Collins said. ''Toni
Kukoc is hurt. Ray Allen is out. And the heart and soul of that
team is Sam Cassell, and he had an off night.''

Game notes
A day late, the Wizards marked the fifth anniversary of the
MCI Center, which opened Dec. 2, 1997. Washington won its first
eight games in its new building, but the overall record has since
dropped to 94-100. ... Wizards forward Christian Laettner scored
nine points to reach the 10,000 mark for his career. Laettner
started in place of Kwame Brown, who was a reserve for the first
time this season. ... Cassell and Thomas were both called for
technical fouls -- Thomas for shoving Charles Oakley -- as the Bucks
fell to 2-7 on the road. ... The Bucks are 2-3 since Allen was
injured. ... Milwaukee's 78 points were a season-low.