Michael Jordan has made his home court debut as the National Basketball Association's Washington Wizards fell to the New Jersey Nets 102-95 Saturday night in their first pre-season game at the MCI Center. A crowd of 20,674 watched Jordan's amazing performance in the nationally-televised game.
Michael Jordan scored 41 points in 33 minutes on the court. But having the 38-year old legend on the floor was not enough to prevent a Wizards team lacking in defense from falling to its third loss in four pre-season games.
The Nets jumped out to a 32-19 lead at the end of the first quarter, and led by 18 at the half. Jordan caught fire in the third quarter, scoring 16 points on six-for-six shooting including two three-pointers, and drawing the Wizards within two points before being rested by coach Doug Collins. Jordan says his rest was part of Collins strategy.
"Doug made a point when in the third quarter we got to 63-61, he could have easily left me in the ballgame. But I think he really wanted to emphasize playing without me on the court in those circumstances, and I think that's something they are going to have to learn," said Jordan.
The arrival of Jordan gives instant credibility to the Wizards playoff hopes. But it appears that M.J. will need some help from his new supporting cast if the Wizards are to make it to the post-season. The Wizards play four more preseason games before opening the regular season against the Knicks in New York on October 30.