Washington's look not only harkened back to the 1970s, with each player wearing the knee-high socks that were in fashion then, but also to last season, when Jordan was a retired club executive and points and victories were at a premium.
With Chris Whitney and Hubert Davis connecting from three- point range, the Wizards displayed the kind of offensive firepower they could only dream of last season, but the Pistons" Damon Jones, Corliss Williamson and Ben Wallace hit enough big shots to give the Pistons a 97-90 win.
Whitney and Davis combined to hit six of 11 three-pointers to give Washington a chance to steal what would have been a big road win over the Central Division leaders, particularly on a night when leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse was saddled with foul trouble.
But they weren't enough to match Detroit's trio. Williamson and Wallace, a former Washington reserve, bedeviled the Wizards in side, while Jones hit four of eight from three-point range, part of his 17 points.
Williamson had 22 points off the bench, while Wallace, a 44 per cent free-throw shooter, hit eight of 10 foul shots, seven in the fourth quarter, to cripple Washington (27-25).
Richard Hamilton led Washington with 22 points, but only eight of them came in the second half. Meanwhile, Whitney had 19, while Davis scored 17, 12 in the second half.
Davis' three-pointer with 5:31 to go tied the score at 80, but the Pistons went on a 9-2 run, with Wallace hitting four free throws, Williamson contributing a basket and Jones hitting his final three- pointer with 3:52 to go to give De troit (30-22) an 89-82 lead and break the game open.
Jordan missed the game with tendinitis in his right knee, but is expected to play tonight when the Wizards, who have dropped four of five since the All-Star break, meet New Jersey at MCI Center.
But the night off seemed to be as much a concession to his age and the recent rigorous schedule he has kept as to his knee.
"I just think the knee needs rest, and he needs rest." said coach Doug Collins before the game. "When he goes to the All-Star Game, he doesn't get a chance to rest, and then we go right to the West Coast, and we play three games in four days and we come back and he's got the grand opening of his [Washington] restaurant. He's had a lot of things on his plate."
Collins said he thought the Wizards were up to the challenge of facing the Pistons without Jordan.
Indeed, they hung in through most of the first half , aided in no small part by the absence of Detroit center Cliff Robinson, who was serving a one-game suspension, and foul trouble for Stackhouse, who picked up three fouls in the first 17 minutes and sat out the last seven minutes of the half.
Collins said the team would likely not make a move before the league's trading deadline of 6 p.m. today.
"The question is can we really upgrade our team without giving up something that we really want for the long haul, and the answer is I don't think we can." he said. 'That said, probably what you see in this room here is the team that we're going to finish the season."