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Jordan alone not enough to subdue first-place Mavs

2/24/2003

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Michael Jordan caught the ball with the score
tied and two seconds to play. He dribbled right against a double
team and got off an 18-footer.

The ball hit the back of the rim and came out. Coach Doug
Collins buried his face into the scorers' table. The game went to
overtime, where the Dallas Mavericks' sheer level of talent was too
much in a 106-101 victory over the Washington Wizards.

"I thought I made it,'' Jordan said. "I got exactly what I
wanted. I had a great look, hit the back of the rim.''

Two days after scoring 43 in a victory over New Jersey -- when he
became the first 40-year-old to score 40-plus -- Jordan got 30 in 52
minutes as the Wizards came close to a Friday-Sunday sweep of
first-place teams. They didn't quite pull it off, failing to win
when Jordan gets 30 or more for the first time this season.

"If you want to look for moral victories, you can definitely
look at this as one,'' said Jordan, whose team is fighting to stay
in the playoff race. "But either way, it goes into the loss
column. If we play this way against any teams the rest of the
season, then we're going to win our share of the games.''

Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 10 rebounds, Michael Finley had
24 points, and Steve Nash had 22 points and 10 assists as the
Mavericks won their sixth in a row.

The Mavericks were down 18 in the first quarter, relied on their
reserves to bail them out, then blew a 12-point fourth-quarter
lead.

"I felt terrible most of the game,'' said Nash, who didn't get
to sleep until 2 a.m. and woke up six hours later for the early
matinee. "We didn't really have a lot of bounce to us. The bench
deserves a lot of credit for the way they played in the second
quarter.''

Jordan finished 14-for-26 from the field and had nine rebounds,
but he also had six of Washington's nine turnovers. He and rookie
Juan Dixon spurred the fourth-quarter comeback, combining for 17
straight Wizards points, and the stage seemed set for Jordan's
buzzer shot to become another classic game-winner.

"I thought it was going in for sure,'' Nowitzki said.

Jerry Stackhouse, whose 3-pointer sent the game to overtime,
also scored 30 for the Wizards, who had won four straight at home.

Nowitzki and Nash gave Dallas a quick five-point lead in
overtime, but Jordan's runner tied it at 97 with 2:10 left. Finley
broke the tie with short hook after a nice inside move, and Nash's
tough shot over Tyronn Lue put the Mavericks ahead by four.

Jordan had six points in overtime, but the final shot went to
Dixon, whose 3-pointer that could have tied the game in the final
10 seconds was blocked by Finley.

Dixon finished with 16 points.

The unsung heroes for the Mavericks were reserves Eduardo Najera
and Walt Williams, who rescued Dallas from a 24-6 first-quarter
hole by combining for 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the second
period. Williams finished with 10 points, Najera with eight.

Nowitzki scored 14 in the third quarter, when the Mavericks
finally took the lead after recovering from the early deficit.
Nowitzki missed all five of his shots in the first quarter, but he
went 11-for-18 the rest of the way.

Game notes
The Wizards had been 6-0 when Jordan scores 30 or more. ...
They had also been 16-0 when scoring 100 or more. ... The Mavericks
improved to 20-4 against Eastern Conference teams. ... The
Mavericks scored a season-low 13 points in the first quarter. ...
The Mavericks' reserves outscored the Wizards' subs 25-2 in the
first half. ... Jordan had Washington's three turnovers in the
first half.