Wizards move into playoff spot with win


SEATTLE (AP) -- The knees are 40. The jumper is timeless.

Michael Jordan had 26 points and 10 rebounds, hitting three
straight baskets in a key stretch of the fourth quarter as the
Washington Wizards used a late run to beat the Seattle SuperSonics
80-74 on Wednesday night.

One night earlier, Jordan scored 25 points in a win at Portland.

"I feel 40 right now. I'm sore," Jordan said. "I'm feeling
the back-to-back. It's going to be a good day off tomorrow."

The Wizards made their fourth stop on a six-game road swing, a
farewell tour for Jordan as he closes out the final month of his
peerless NBA career. Every introduction brings thunderous applause;
every shot is documented by popping flashbulbs.

"It's very gratifying to me that they've paid attention to what
I've done," Jordan said. "They want their teams to win, but they
also want to see me score 50 points. It's a great measure of
respect. I love it."

The audience at courtside this time included former Boston
Celtics superstar Bill Russell, who like Jordan was the dominant
player of his era. Even opponents sometimes watch in wonder as
Jordan performs.

"People said it was bad for the league when he came back two
years ago," said Seattle's Brent Barry, who scored 15. "But I'll
be damned if everyone in the building tonight wasn't glad he was

After scoring 25 points against the Trail Blazers, Jordan struck
again in Seattle. His three buckets down the stretch helped the
Wizards extend a 67-65 lead to 73-67 with 1:45 to play.

Jerry Stackhouse scored 20, including a putback that all sealed
the win with 16 seconds remaining. He drove and passed to Bobby
Simmons, who missed a layup, but Stackhouse was there for the
putback to give the Wizards a 76-72 lead.

"Give credit to coach (Doug) Collins," Barry said. "He had
them ready for halfcourt sets and they were able to execute it."

The victory moved Washington a half-game ahead of Milwaukee for
the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The
Bucks lost 108-103 at Denver.

""I would love to taste the playoffs one more time," said
Jordan, who shot 12-of-22.

Ray Allen scored 17 to lead the Sonics, who had won four of
their previous five games in a bid for the eighth spot in the
Western Conference playoffs. Rashard Lewis scored 14.

It seemed nobody could take over in the fourth quarter.

With the Wizards nursing a 62-57 lead after three periods, both
teams took turns missing shots and throwing the ball out of bounds.

Even Stackhouse and Jordan launched airballs as Washington tried
to extend its 67-63 lead late in the fourth. But after a jumper by
Allen pulled the Sonics to 67-65, Jordan hit twice on jumpers to
make it 71-65.

After a putback by Lewis, Jordan connected again, this time from
the left side.

"Just making sure we'd get a good shot," Jordan said. "Good
offensive rebounding, too. A couple of times, they switched. I had
(Vladimir) Radmanovic on me. I used my education to take advantage
of his athleticism."

The Sonics trimmed the deficit to 74-72 on a 3-pointer by
Radmanovic with 53.4 seconds to go, but the Wizards got a big
rebound by Bryon Russell after a miss by Jordan. Stackhouse put the
game away on the ensuing possession.

Jordan, who is retiring after this season, played his last game
at Key Arena, where he led the Chicago Bulls to the 1996 NBA title
in six games.

"Mike played well," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "He did
a good job of getting himself open and knocking down shots. We
didn't get close enough on him early to force him to put the ball
on the floor."

Lewis started the third quarter after bruising his right knee
when he hit the floor hard late in the first half. Wizards C
Brendan Haywood was whistled for a flagrant foul on the play and
didn't return.

Game notes
Sonics F Reggie Evans scored 11 points, all in the first
quarter. He also had 11 rebounds. ... Wizards G Larry Hughes didn't
play after aggravating a sprained right ankle one night earlier.
... McMillan, who missed much of the 1996 NBA Finals with back
spasms, reminiscing on the matchup with Jordan and the Bulls: ``We
were not fearful. We were confident.'' The Sonics lost the first
three in that series, won the next two and then lost Game 6.