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Jordan starts strong, lets kids finish Magic

©Associated Press
January 17, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Michael Jordan's 28 first-half points showed he can't win a game by himself. In fact, his teammates put together the decisive run while he was taking a rest.

Jordan finished with 32, but it was Larry Hughes, Brendan Haywood and Kwame Brown who did all the scoring in a 12-2 fourth-quarter run as the Wizards beat the Magic 108-93 Thursday night.

The Wizards proved they can be competitive without injured leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse. Hughes and the frontcourt combinations of Haywood, Brown, Christian Laettner and Etan Thomas more than compensated.

"Our big men were responsible for that win tonight," coach Doug Collins said. "When they were trying to come over and help on Michael, our big guys did a good job of finding the open areas and finishing. We played as good a game as you could play without Jerry."

The Wizards beat the Magic for the first time in three meetings this season in a game between two .500 teams expected to battle for playoff position in April.

Tracy McGrady scored 31 points for Orlando, which overcame a 16-point first-half deficit but fell apart with just one field goal in the first 4:59 of the final quarter.

"When you play defense like that, you deserve to lose basketball games," Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "They came to play."

Hughes scored nine of his 22 and Haywood had five of his season-high 16 in the fourth. Brown scored all nine of his points in the final quarter.

Orlando, which has lost four of its past five, also played the second half without Grant Hill, who again was sidelined with a sore left ankle after playing just 12 minutes.

Rivers said it might be time to give the six-time All-Star another extended rest.

"I think it's a decision we really have to give some thought to," Rivers said. "One of the things I told Grant at halftime, you don't worry about anything but get healthy. You're not letting your team down. You're not letting yourself down. If you don't play until we make the playoffs -- if we make the playoffs -- you don't play again. That's fine with us."

JAZZ 92, SONICS 85: Matt Harpring scored 15 of his 26 points in the third quarter as host Utah rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit and extended Seattle's losing streak to six. Karl Malone scored 34 and had nine rebounds for Utah.

BLAZERS: The league is investigating an encounter between Portland star Rasheed Wallace and a referee after Wednesday's game against Memphis.

RAPTORS: The contract of Nate Huffman was terminated because the rookie center did not disclose his history of knee problems. Union spokesman Dan Wasserman said a grievance likely will be filed. ... Vince Carter, who has missed 19 straight games with a strained right knee, has not ruled out playing in next month's All-Star Game.

ROBERTS REINSTATED: Stanley Roberts was reinstated by the league and the union more than three years after he was kicked out of the league for failing a drug test. The 76ers own the rights to the 32-year-old Roberts. If they don't want him, the 7-foot center can sign with any team.

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