"I don't want anybody to think I can't score," he said. "I
can score if I want to."
Jordan rebounded from one of the worst games of his career to
score a season-high 30 points as the Washington Wizards beat
Atlanta 109-99 Tuesday night.
On Sunday, Jordan had only two points in 40 minutes -- matching
the career low he set last April -- but equaled that 17 seconds into
this game with a jumper from the wing. He easily got open shots
against the Hawks, spending most of the night working against Glenn
Robinson and Ira Newble.
"The guy is the most proud man I've ever known," coach Doug
Collins said of Jordan. "He absorbed that stuff a lot harder than
anybody knew. He just didn't show it."
Jerry Stackhouse added 23 points and Larry Hughes 20 for the
Wizards, who moved a game ahead of Atlanta in the Eastern
Conference with their second straight victory. With Milwaukee's
loss to Toronto in overtime, the Wizards hold the eighth and final
Robinson scored 33 points for the Hawks, who have lost a
season-high four in a row. Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 20 points and
Jordan, making his next-to-last appearance in Atlanta, drew the
loudest cheers of the night and got a standing ovation when he
walked off with 13.6 seconds left.
"These people have always ... given me the highest of praise,
even when I was in college," he said. "So it's always fun to come
back and play here."
Late in the fourth quarter, with the home team trying to rally,
fans were yelling at Jordan to take the ball to the basket. He did
just that, making a reverse layup with 3:33 left to tie his
previous high this season. Then he lofted a left-handed hook over
Theo Ratliff for his final basket.
"I've been working on that," Jordan quipped. "I had
confidence I could do it, or obviously I wouldn't have done it. I
wasn't going to settle on a jump shot."
Jordan appeared to thoroughly enjoy himself, even when he wasn't
scoring. He paused to talk to fans in the first row before throwing
an inbound pass, and joked with Atlanta guard Jason Terry.
"He was just letting me know it was his night, and there was
nothing we could do," Terry said. "He said, 'I was backing you
down and no one could stop me. I've being doing this my whole
The cheering for Jordan didn't bother Terry.
"That's Michael Jordan. That's the greatest player ever,"
Terry said. "I understand totally. If I was in the stands, I would
have cheered, too."
Jordan even good-naturedly lectured Hawks coach Lon Kruger after
forcing a foul from Newble in the final seconds of the third
quarter. When Kruger protested, Jordan walked over to him and said,
"If the ball goes up in the air, that means I was fouled."
After Kruger slapped him on the back, Jordan made two free
throws for an 86-79 lead.
The Wizards were in control throughout, taking a 4-2 lead and
never giving it up. They led 50-31 after two free throws by Jordan
midway through the second period. But a late flurry by Atlanta --
culminated by a 3-pointer by Robinson -- cut the lead to 64-53 at
"They made their run, then we had an opportunity to make our
run," Hughes said. "It's tough playing from behind for basically
the whole game."
Jordan's previous season high of 28 points came Nov. 26
against Indiana. ... The Hawks' schedule gets tough in the next
week, with games against Houston, Philadelphia, Indiana and San
Antonio. ... Atlanta F Chris Crawford missed his seventh straight
game with a sore knee. ... Terry and Washington G Tyronn Lue each
got technicals after for shoving one another in the second quarter.
The two shortest players on the court got nose-to-nose, but no
punches were thrown.