Originally created 02/16/02

Jordan's jumper puts Wizards ahead of Suns



PHOENIX -- Michael Jordan scored with two-tenths of a second left to give the Washington Wizards a 97-96 win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

After completing a 22-point performance with the winning 16-footer, Jordan pumped his fist, turned to a personal cheering section behind the Suns' bench and said, "That's what they pay me for."

After Stephon Marbury made one of two free throws with 5.6 seconds to go, the Wizards called a timeout. Jordan took the ball and worked his way from midcourt almost lazily, as if oblivious to the clock, pumped once and went over Shawn Marion for the shot.

Richard Hamilton had 29 points for Washington, which snapped a two-game losing streak, and Tyrone Nesby had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Marbury had 30 points, Tony Delk scored 17 and Bo Outlaw 11 for the Suns, who dropped their second straight.

Jordan had 41 points in Washington's 112-102 win over Phoenix on Jan. 26.

This time, he was scoreless after a 13-point first quarter until 2:11 into the fourth, when he gave the Wizards a 75-74 lead with a free throw.

Phoenix tied the score at 72 and 74 early in the fourth and took an 86-85 lead when Marion stole the ball from Hamilton and passed to Marbury for a layup with 4:58 to play.

But Jordan negated a Phoenix possession when he drew a charging call on Marion, and Hamilton got the lead back with a layup.

Then Jordan hit a 17-foot turnaround for an 89-86 lead with 3:44 to play.

The Suns caught up again at 91-91 on a three-point play by Marbury at the 2:18 mark, and went ahead, 95-93, on a layup by Marbury with 22 seconds left. Nesby answered six seconds later when he followed a miss by Jordan with a dunk.

The teams battled for the lead through most of the third quarter, but the Wizards tried to pull away at the end.

Hamilton made it 69-63 with a short jumper with 2:45 to go and 72-66 with a three-point play 1:40 later.

The Wizards trailed until the final 2:26 of the first quarter, when Jordan scored his team's last nine points to send Washington to a 29-25 lead with 36 seconds to go.

Notes: Jordan and Phoenix's Tony Delk butted heads late in the first, but neither had to leave the game. Jordan rubbed the right side of his jaw several times and then appeared unbothered by the incident. ... The Wizards hadn't swept the Suns since 1987-88. ... Coach Doug Collins thinks Jordan could win his sixth NBA MVP award. "I wasn't there last year, but they won 19 games, and we were 21-20 at the break this year," Collins said. "You look at the team ... the difference has been Michael Jordan." ... Jordan played his 11th regular-season game (6-5) in Phoenix and 22nd against the Suns (14-8). He was 4-2 vs. the Suns in the 1993 NBA finals, when Chicago won all three games in Phoenix.