"I've been waiting for the moment,'' Jordan said. "I've been
getting close. Tonight, with the highest of things at stake, my
game came to me. I was able to make a big impact. Hopefully, this
is just the start of something big.''
Jordan scored 20 points in the fourth quarter and two overtimes
and added a season-high 12 rebounds in his first 40-point game of
the season. He made 14 of 26 shots from the field and 10 of 12 from
the line, including a pair of free throws that gave the Wizards the
lead for good.
"I look down and see 53 minutes, that worries me,'' said coach
Doug Collins, who wanted to keep the 39-year-old Jordan around 30
minutes per game this season. "But had I taken him out tonight, I
probably would have been fired.''
Jordan and Oakley, who has been rarely used this season, battled
wills and wits with Al Harrington and Jermaine O'Neal in a tense
thriller. Harrington finished with 33 points, and O'Neal had 26
points and 13 rebounds.
Oakley matched his season-high with 27 minutes and was a big
veteran defensive presence on Harrington down the stretch. Jordan
also created a key turnover, knocking the ball out of bounds off
Harrington in the final minute of double overtime.
Larry Hughes scored 23 points, and Jerry Stackhouse had 20 for
the Wizards, who won their third straight and got a rare victory
over the Pacers, who had won 18 of the last 20 meetings.
"That was the best win of the season,'' Stackhouse said. "We
had our resolve, and we just stayed with it. We had times when it
didn't look good, had times when it started to look good and didn't
look good again. We just hung in there.''
The Wizards took the lead for good when Jordan made two free
throws after he was fouled by Harrington driving to the basket with
3:03 to go. There were several missed baskets and turnovers before
someone finally scored again -- Christian Laettner made two free
throws with 1:01 to play.
Erick Strickland cut the lead to one with a 3-pointer with 43.8
left, but Harrington's turnover cost the Pacers the ball.
Stackhouse made a pair of free throws to get the lead to three, and
Reggie Miller missed two 3-pointers in the final seconds.
"A bounce here or there, and the game could have gone another
way,'' Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said.
The game took a toll on the Pacers, who played in New York the
night before. Indiana was without forward Ron Artest, who was
suspended for three games without pay and fined $35,000 by the NBA
on Saturday for hurling a television monitor and smashing a camera
to pieces following the loss to the Knicks.
Asked what difference it made not having Artest, Thomas said:
"You saw it -- 41.''
The final minutes of the fourth quarter were an incredible
back-and-forth among determined stars. Harrington's double-pump
14-footer gave the Pacers a one-point lead. Jordan responded with a
3-pointer. Oakley added a baseline jumper. O'Neal powered for a
layup. Jamaal Tinsley made a 3-pointer.
Jordan drove home a one-handed dunk over O'Neal. Harrington hit
a jumper. Jordan made one of two free throws. O'Neal fed Tinsley
for a layup. Jordan hit a fadeaway over Ron Mercer.
That left the score tied at 93 with 52 seconds to play and the
sellout crowd on its feet. O'Neal hit a fadeaway 13-footer, Hughes
made a layup and Miller missed a jumper at the buzzer to send the
game into overtime.
The first overtime was an emotional letdown, a tense five
minutes that produced just eight points. O'Neal missed a fadeaway
at the buzzer that could have won it.
Jordan's regular-season career high in minutes is 56, but
he once played 57 in a playoff game. ... Neither team was happy
with the officiating. The Pacers were upset over a flagrant foul by
Harrington on Jordan in the second overtime, and the Wizards
complained about numerous calls. ... Jordan's last 40-point game
was Jan. 26, 2002 against Phoenix, when he scored 41. ... Rookie
Fred Jones made his first career start in place of Artest, but he
took just one shot from the field and scored four points in 25
minutes. ... It was the Wizards' first overtime game of the season.
The Pacers are 3-1 in OT.