Jordan overcame 5-for-14 shooting through the first three
quarters by scoring 10 of his 25 points in final period, leading
the Wizards to an 89-74 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday.
During a first-quarter exchange with Denver rookie Vincent
Yarbrough, who grew up rooting for the Chicago Bulls, Jordan
shouted: "You remember that, you watched me. I didn't watch you.''
Jordan then told his teammates to concentrate on scoring, not
trash-talking with the Nuggets.
"I told our guys to calm down and let me do all the talking,''
he said. "You guys just play, and when we get a lead, then
everybody can talk.''
Jordan shrugged off his shooting woes by making four jump shots,
a driving layup and a finger roll during a decisive 15-4 run. He
shot 11-for-22 in the game.
The talking didn't bother the Nuggets early.
Juwan Howard, who led the Nuggets with 25 points, scored 15
points in the first half against his former team, helping Denver
take a 42-39 halftime lead.
Washington picked up its defense in the second half, holding
Denver without a field goal for six minutes of the third quarter and making the stops it needed in the fourth to prevent a comeback.
"I can't give them experience by waving a wand,'' Denver coach
Jeff Bzdelik said. "They have to go through it. They have to go
through it when the game is on the line.''
Before Jordan's fourth-quarter surge, the Wizards counted on
Larry Hughes for their offense.
Hughes scored 20 points and sparked a 21-6 third-quarter run
during which he gave Washington its first lead with 6:06 left in
Washington extended its lead to 64-57 by the end of the quarter.
"They jumped on us early, and they rocked us back on our heels
pretty good,'' Washington coach Doug Collins said. "Michael and
Larry gave us the scoring we needed, so it was hard fought and a
much needed win.''
Denver closed within six points early in the fourth, but Jordan
scored eight of Washington's next 12 points, and his drive to the
basket with 4:09 left gave the Wizards a 78-68 lead.
The Wizards' starting frontcourt attempted just three shots in
the first half, and Washington was held without a field goal for
six minutes of the second quarter.
The Wizards kept the first half close by shooting 11-for-15 from
Washington guard Jerry Stackhouse missed his third straight
game because of a pulled left groin. Collins said Stackhouse will
travel with the team for Wednesday's game in New Orleans. ...
Denver's 74 points is tied for the fifth-lowest point total in
franchise history. ... Washington won for the first time this
season at home when scoring between 80 and 89 points.