Suns have rude sendoff for one-time foil Jordan

PHOENIX (AP) -- Michael Jordan looked his age on his last trip to Phoenix as a player. The Suns looked their age, too, and that was bad news for the Washington Wizards.

Stephon Marbury scored 23 points and Joe Johnson added 19 off
the bench as the young, aggressive Suns routed the Wizards 109-83
Friday night.

"It was very, very embarrassing, more so than anything. I can't even believe we got paid tonight,'' said Jordan, who had to sell his interest in the team when he returned as a player last season.

Shawn Marion had 18 points and Amare Stoudemire had 11 of his 16 in the final quarter, allowing the Suns to keep pace with Houston for eighth place in the Western Conference.

They opened a 90-60 lead on two free throws by Marbury with 9:10
left and coasted to their biggest winning margin of the season.
Jordan came out soon after.

The Suns were mixed in their reaction to being part of the superstar's farewell tour.

"It was fun while it lasted, and I hope he'll have fun in retirement,'' Marion said.

The 21-year-old Johnson, who was 3-of-3 on 3-pointers, took a more traditional approach.

"He's a great man,'' Johnson said. "I'm glad he came back to the game. He's done a lot for not only the people in the league, but the outside people, as well. It was an honor to play against him.''

Jordan had 14 points, Larry Hughes 13 and Christian Laettner 12
for the Wizards, who started a crucial six-game Western road trip
by losing for the 11th time in 13 road games. They are 9-22 on the
road overall.

With the loss, the Wizards failed to make up ground on
Milwaukee, the No. 8 team in the East. The Bucks remained one-half
game ahead in the playoff race despite losing in New Orleans.

"I'm not going to carry this team like I did in '84 for the Bulls,'' Jordan said. "I mean, we've got young, talented people on this team. If they're going to sit back there and expect that I'm going to score 50 points, they've got a nice little awakening coming.''

The outcome provided a double celebration for the capacity crowd
of 19,023 -- many wearing Wizards jerseys -- who packed the America
West Arena to see the player who made a specialty of sinking their team.

The last time Jordan played in Phoenix, he hit a jumper a split-second before the buzzer for a 97-96 Washington victory on Feb. 15, 2002, and a sweep of the season series.

Ten years ago, Jordan averaged an NBA-record 41 points while leading Chicago to a six-game victory over the Suns in the NBA Finals. That ended the best chance of his friend, Suns star Charles Barkley, to earn a championship ring.

Barkley planned to attend Friday's game, but stayed in Birmingham, Ala., at the bedside of his brother, Darryl, who received a heart transplant Wednesday.

Jordan, who has had two of his 173 career 40-point games since he turned 40 on Feb. 17, didn't get his first basket until hitting a 19-footer 5:17 into the game. He added a fadeaway for a 15-9 lead.

But Marbury had two steals, assisted on a 3-pointer by Johnson
and scored eight points as the Suns finished the quarter with a
17-0 run.

"The game really changed when they put Johnson and Bo Outlaw in
the game,'' Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "They just scrambled
the floor and we weren't able to run any offense. I mean, 60 points
in the paint, and it wasn't like they were post-up. They beat us in
every way.''

Phoenix's lead reached 49-28 after Marbury's pass to Marion for a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:36 left in the second.

Jordan completed a 14-6 run with a baseline jumper 2:39 into the
third quarter as the Wizards crept within 55-42.

Laettner had Washington's next eight points in a four-minute
span. But Marion, who had 10 points in the quarter, dunked, passed
off to Marbury for a 3-pointer and hit a 3-pointer that opened a
74-54 lead with 2:48 left in the third.

"Shawn hit some big 3s with the clock running down,'' Suns
coach Frank Johnson said. "Certainly, when they cut it to 13 there
in the second half there was some concern.''

The surge continued with a key play by Jake Voskuhl, who knocked
the ball out of Laettner's hands to Marbury, then made a follow
dunk. That made it 76-54 and took the wind out of the Wizards.

Game notes
Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers, who are training in
Arizona for the first time this preseason, was courtside. He waved
and Jordan returned the salute when Jordan missed a jumper from
Rodriguez's side of the court, but was fouled and made two free
throws. ... Marbury has averaged 26.2 points in four games against
the Wizards since Phoenix acquired him. ... Phoenix (36-32) matched
last year's win total with 14 games left.


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