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12/6/2001 - The Washington Post
For Ex-Terp Morris, NBA 101
12/6/2001 - The Washington Post
Jordan sparks Wizards
12/5/2001 - Houston Chronicle
Jordan has a thrill left
Shooting Air Against Air
Jordan hurts Rockets late, team can't shoot a lick in loss
By Clutch

Jordan was clutch down the stretch, but it was Richard Hamilton who burned the Rockets consistently, making mid-range shots all night for the Wizards.
The Rockets were a dismal 2-17 from 21-feet+, and Moochie Norris and Oscar Torres were a combined 0-8. A three-happy ballclub that can't hit a thing -- not a good combo.
It's gotten so bad it's comical.

Michael Jordan came to town and despite missing 13 of his first 19 shots, he made all the right moves down the stretch as the Wizards beat the Rockets 85-82 in what was as ugly of a basketball game as you can possibly imagine.

The loss is the Rockets 8th in a row and drops their record to 7-13.

Jordan (18 points, 7 assists, 6 boards) made key shots down the stretch, including a circus drive and double-pump layin, as the Wizards took a 74-67 lead with just over 4 minutes to go. A late Rocket mini-rally was, as usual, too little-too late.

Are the Rockets the league's single worst team right now? Quite possibly. In their last 14 games they are 2-12. Now, after the Wizards loss, the Rockets have fallen to 3 of the league's 4 worst teams. Mark on your calendars December 15th -- that's when the Rockets face the 2-14 Miami Heat. Should be a doozie.

I don't know what it is, but the Rockets shot so badly yet again that I turned a corner -- I actually found it entertaining. Possibly the Rockets have bricked so many shots now that it has killed all the cells in the part of my brain that can appreciate quality basketball, but whatever it was, I found the game amusing.

When they would go in to their second or third 5-minute stint without a field goal, or in the case of one of those spells without a single point, it was a challenge as a fan to see how long they could go while still allegedly trying to score.

The Rockets have become that bad.

35% shooting from the field and 15 of the team's 17 three-pointers were bricks. Eddie Griffin was 1-7. Oscar Torres 2-8. Glen Rice 2-6. Moochie Norris 4-13. Walt Williams and Tierre Brown a combined 0-4 off the bench. Kenny Thomas 5-13. That's 27% for those 7 guys and they put up well over half the shots.

The big bright spot was Cuttino Mobley, who, despite turning it over 6 times, hit 10-22 shots for 25 points to lead the team. Kelvin Cato also played well, scoring 10 points and grabbing 12 boards in 31 minutes of play.

Richard Hamilton led the Wizards with 26 points on 12-20 shooting. Washington rejected 8 Rocket shots while Houston didn't swat a single Wizard attempt.

Game Notes:
The fans were all there, hoping to see Jordan. Glen Rice came out guarding MJ. Cuttino Mobley however was the guard who came out strong, scoring 7 of the Rockets' first 9 points, but Richard Hamilton was hot as well, keeping the score tied. When Cato jammed home a nasty alleyoop -- he caught it left-handed from way behind his head and threw it down -- the Rockets led 11-9.

When Mobley stroked another jumper, he was 4-4 from the field for 9 points and the Rockets led 15-11.

But Jordan sparked and Hamilton finished an 11-2 Wizard run, putting Washington up 22-17. But the Rockets finished with a flurry of their own, 7-0, after Mobley hit another jumper, Rice a three and Moochie two free throws.

After one, 24-22 Rockets. Mobley was 5-6 from the field for 11 points. Hamilton hit 5-7 for 10 points to lead Washington.

Willis started the second off with a slam, and Mobley continued his hot ways. After he attacked the hoop for a tough layin in transition, then hit a very tough 9-footer (with defenders all over him), and the Rockets were up 32-26.

The Wizards jumped right back in to it though to tie it back up. Jordan came back in to the game and when he went baseline for a jam, tying the game at 36, the Compaq Center crowd exploded in to cheers about as loud as they have all season.

I just rolled my eyes. Embarrassing really.

Eddie Griffin had a nice move, scoring a deuce on a 16-foot spinning turnaround, but he was just 1-5 in the second quarter. At the half, it was 40-38 Rockets. Mobley led the Rockets with 17 big points, but both teams played unexciting ball. Poor shooting all around as Washington shot 38.6% at half and the Rockets less than 37%.

The third quarter was truly a pathetic display of basketball.

The Rockets scored 3 right off the bat to take a 43-38 advantage, then they went almost 5 minutes without a single point. Brick, brick, brick.... even free throws -- Kenny Thomas went to the line and missed both. Fortunately, the Wizards were just as bad. All they could do was tie or take a 2-point edge, and never could pull away. The lead went back and forth all quarter.

Through three, Wizards 60, Rockets 58. Washington shot 41% and the Rockets less than 35% for the game at this point. Mobley had 19 through three, but was just 1-7 in the third.

The shooting continued to be miserable in the fourth. Though Mobley hit two buckets to start the period, they went ice cold from there. They went the next 5 minutes without a field goal -- 6 bricks and a turnover -- and by then, thanks to Jordan, the Wizards had built a 70-63 edge with 6:15 to go.

Jordan hit a jumper over Walt Williams with 4:32 to go, putting Washington up 74-67.

Houston came back. With 2:25 to go, Kenny Thomas hit a tough jumper off the wing and it was 74-72, but Jordan responded with a jumper going to his left to up the Wizards' lead back to 4. Moochie then missed a shot, and Jordan found Tyronne Lue for a deuce and it was 78-72 Wizards.

Kenny Thomas scored quickly, but Lue hit a jumper with exactly a minute left. After two Mobley free throws, Popeye Jones hit a baseline jumper with 37 seconds left to make it 82-76 and Rudy had to stop the action with a timeout.

Cato was fouled with 33 ticks left. He made the first, missed the second but the Rockets got the board. Moochie and Mobley each missed then Cato got a bucket with 15 ticks left. They fouled Lue quickly. He made 1-2 to make it 83-79 with 12.4 seconds left.

They inbounded and found Torres, who put up a three, but was fouled. The rookie went to the line and made all three. 83-82 with 7.3 seconds left. The Rockets fouled Richard Hamilton, who unfortunately is one of the best FT shooters in the game. He made both freebies with 6.3 ticks left.

Moochie brought the ball up, threw it to Torres who desperately threw it to KT... his desperation three was an airball.

8 straight losses.

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