BOSTON (AP) -- Michael Jordan is doing everything he can to
extend his career.
Jordan had 25 points and 13 rebounds Sunday to keep Washington's
playoff hopes alive and lead the Wizards to a 99-98 overtime
victory over the Celtics in what was likely his last game in
"Michael played a happy game,'' Washington coach Doug Collins
said. "He played this game, I thought, very loose, and (he)
smiled. It was fun to watch him have fun.''
Christian Laettner had 13 rebounds and 16 points, including the
game-winning jumper with 53 seconds left. Jerry Stackhouse scored
24 for Washington, which is two games behind Milwaukee for the
eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race with six games
to play. The Bucks own the tiebreaker.
"Mathematically, we're still in it. So let's just keep winning
and let the chips fall where they may,'' said Jordan, who will
retire for a third time after the season. "I want to make sure I
smile when I walk away this time.''
He was chuckling along with the crowd when he faked out Eric
Williams in the first quarter, and again when he missed a reverse
layup in the second half.
"I know this is not going to last forever,'' Jordan said. "I
enjoy being on the court, and I'm trying to smile and have a good
time and still play hard. I know that it is coming to an end, but
it was fun. It was a great win.''
Paul Pierce had 36 points and nine rebounds for Boston, which
could have clinched a playoff berth with a win. Walter McCarty
scored 23, but Antoine Walker had just seven points -- two in
regulation -- to go with his 14 assists and 10 rebounds.
Jordan, who scored an NBA playoff-record 63 points in Boston on
April 20, 1986, made the last three baskets of the fourth quarter
to help the Wizards tie it at the end of regulation.
"He was Jordan tonight,'' McCarty said, "the Jordan we know.''
In overtime, there were three ties and two lead changes before
Laettner sank a 16-footer from the left side to make it 99-98.
Under tough defensive pressure, Pierce lost the control of the
ball and Tyronn Lue went to the floor to grab it and call timeout.
Laettner missed and Pierce grabbed the rebound, but Walker, who was
just 3-for-16 from the floor, missed a 3-pointer.
The Wizards knocked the rebound out of bounds, and the Celtics
had one last chance.
Boston called timeout with eight seconds left, and Williams came
in for McCarty, who was 5-for-10 from 3-point range and having one
of the best games of his career.
The ball came around to Williams at the top of the key, but he
missed the shot.
It was the second consecutive last-second loss for Boston, which
needs just one more win, or Wizards' loss, to clinch a playoff
spot. The Celtics have lost eight of their last 13 games.
"Right now, we just want to get into the playoffs,'' Walker
said. "We've got five games left and we want to finish on a good
Washington's game against Atlanta on Thursday also went down to
the wire before Shareef Abdur-Rahim's desperation shot at the
buzzer gave the Hawks a 91-89 victory.
Jordan scored 10 in the first quarter Sunday and was well on his
way to his 11th double-double of what he says will be his final
season. When he went to the foul line in the first quarter, the
FleetCenter lit up with flashbulbs.
After he faked out Williams in the third, the Celtics had the
last laugh when Washington threw the ball away for an easy basket
by Tony Battie at the other end.
Washington has beaten Boston three times this season, including
a 114-69 decision in Washington on Oct. 31 that was the worst
defeat in the history of the Celtics franchise. The Wizards will go
for a four-game season sweep April 9.
Jordan needs to score 64 points in Washington's final six
games to maintain his career-best scoring average of 30.2 points.
Wilt Chamberlain had 30.1 per game. ... Walker missed his first
nine shots and had two at the end of regulation. ... The Celtics
could still finish as high as third in the East with a lot of luck.
More likely is that they will open the playoffs on the road and
play Indiana, New Jersey or Philadelphia. ... Jordan averaged 33.6
points at the Boston Garden and 29.9 points after it was replaced
by the FleetCenter for the 1995-96 season.