WASHINGTON - With their self-proclaimed father, Michael Jordan, on the shelf with a knee injury, the Washington Wizards did a decent job of upholding the family name last night against the Portland Trail Blazers in their first game in his absence.
But one of Jordan's former kid brothers, Scottie Pippen, did the damage in the Wizards' 105-101 loss, their sixth straight setback and seventh defeat in their past nine games.
Pippen had 19 points, including eight of Portland's last 10 points. His three-pointer with 3:45 to go choked off a Wizards run that had sliced a nine-point lead to three, and he made two free throws with 6.5 seconds to go to seal the victory after the Wizards had cut the margin to two points.
"We are playing well," Pippen said of the Trail Blazers, who have won seven straight. "I think we are learning how to close games out and are learning how to win close games. That is important, especially when you are playing on the road."
Said Washington coach Doug Collins: "That's Scottie Pippen. Scottie might go the whole game and not hit one and then make a big one. ... He's got world championship experience and he makes big shots."
Washington's kids held their own, moving the ball as well as they have all season, but the Trail Blazers, who held a vast advantage in athleticism and experience, kept Washington at bay, out-rebounding the Wizards 49-37 overall and 20-8 on the offensive glass.
The Trail Blazers (33-24) used their offensive rebounding advantage to outscore Washington 26-6 in second-chance opportunities. Portland reserve forward Ruben Patterson scored 20 points and had nine rebounds, exploiting the absence of Washington's starting center, Jahidi White (strained left shoulder) and backup Brendan Haywood (sore left knee).
Rasheed Wallace had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Portland. Richard Hamilton scored 31 for Washington, including 19 in the first half.
At one point in the fourth quarter, the Wizards (27-29) went with a lineup that included guards Tyronn Lue and Hamilton, forwards Courtney Alexander and Kwame Brown and Etan Thomas at center for a combined six years of NBA experience.
"That's part of this process," Collins said. "I think you can see we're not throwing up the white flag. ... We're not going to let that happen."
The Wizards didn't shoot their first free throws of the second half until Chris Whitney (19 points, season-high 11 assists) sank two with 1:24 left in the fourth quarter. Hamilton made two with 7.2 seconds to play. In Sunday's 92-80 loss at Miami, Washington shot only three foul shots in the second half.
"I'm not going to run up and down the sidelines and complain to the referees," Collins said. "I think it gets in the way of the game. I hope they respect our guys enough where if there's a foul, they'll call it. It's not like we didn't have guys taking it to the basket. We just didn't get those calls."
The Wizards caught a bad break from the officials in the game's final seconds, as Alexander was called for pushing Pippen out of bounds on an inbounds play in which contact seemed to be minimal at best.
"I don't want to say anything derogatory towards the refs, but I didn't think it was a foul," said Alexander, who had 13 points off the bench. "And at that point of the game, that's a tough call to make. I didn't think I had fouled him."
Next for Wizards
Opponent: Chicago Bulls
Site: United Center, Chicago
When: Tomorrow, 8:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 50/WTEM (980 AM)