Starry-eyed Wizards edge Cavs


WASHINGTON - There are lots of bad ways to head into an All-Star break, but the worst is to lose on your home court to the worst team in the NBA. Halfway through last night's fourth quarter at MCI Center, the Washington Wizards were staring at that very possibility.

The Cleveland Cavaliers outhustled the Wizards for most of three quarters, and trailed by only one with 6:47 left to play. But the Cavaliers collapsed under the weight of their own mistakes, letting the Wizards escape with an ugly 93-84 win.

The Wizards didn't win so much as Cleveland handed them a victory, as the Cavaliers shot a paltry 43 percent from the floor and committed 21 turnovers.

Washington (24-25) was outrebounded 55-45 by Cleveland.

Michael Jordan had a game-high 27 points, but shot just 5-for-12 in the second half, as the Wizards were lulled to sleep.

"We let them out of the blocks early," Jordan said. "They scored a lot of points [29] in the first quarter. We just never got a good feel for them. In the second half, we had a better feel but not really enough to slow them down. This is a team that can score a lot of points.

"We missed a lot of opportunities, but this is one of the toughest games, when you know you have seven days off after that. The All-Star break is coming and guys are thinking about spending time with their families. ... We had to gut it out."

For a second straight game, the Wizards garnered more than 30 points off opposition turnovers, and had a 17-point advantage in that category, which was enough to overcome their own stop-and-start play.

"I thought we did what we needed to do to get the win," said Washington coach Doug Collins. "Our defense was good in the fourth period and after the first quarter, we only gave them 55 points. We had some guys who stepped up and made some big shots."

Perhaps the biggest was Tyronn Lue, who played well in his second straight start at point guard, with 15 points and six assists. With Cleveland (9-40) trailing 77-76, Lue hit a clutch three-pointer at the 6:01 mark to trigger a 12-3 run that put the game away.

"It's hard for us to match up with this team," Lue said. "They're very athletic, and it's hard when you have a great center like [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas. You concentrate on him and that leaves other guys open and they crash the boards."

Ilgauskas had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland, while Dajuan Wagner had 19 points off the bench. Bryon Russell had 13 for Washington.

As they head to the break, the Wizards are three games worse than last season. But with Jerry Stackhouse scheduled to return from a pulled left groin, Washington, which crept back into the eighth playoff spot last night with Portland's win over Orlando, has hope that it is pointed in the right direction.

"We're a better team than we were last year," Jordan said. "We're better balanced. We have some injuries, but if you look at our roster, we're much better than we were last year. Physically, I feel a lot better than I did last year. Hopefully, we get Jerry back and we get some of our [other] guys back, and we can hopefully start making some headway."

NOTE: The Washington Mystics of the WNBA announced that head coach Marianne Stanley has been signed to a new contract, which she said was for two years. Stanley, the league's Coach of the Year last season, guided the Mystics to a 17-15 mark, the best record in the franchise's five-year history, as well as a berth in the Eastern Conference finals. The Mystics, like the Wizards, are owned and operated by Washington Sports and Entertainment.














Percentages: FG .429, FT .700. 3-point goals: 4-11, .364 (Parker 1-1, Davis 1-3, Wagner 1-3, Jones 1-4). Team rebounds: 5. Team turnovers: 22 (31 PTS). Blocked shots: 1 (Miles). Turnovers: 21 (Davis 6, Ilgauskas 5, Boozer 3, Miles 3, Diop 2, Mihm, Palacio). Steals: 10 (Jones 4, Diop 2, Davis, Miles, Palacio, Wagner). Technical foul: Davis, 9:13 second. FGFTReb












Percentages: FG .444, FT .750. 3-point goals: 6-12, .500 (Lue 3-6, Russell 2-2, Dixon 1-2, Hughes 0-2). Team rebounds: 9. Team turnovers: 13 (14 PTS). Blocked shots: 7 (Thomas 2, Hughes 2, Laettner, Jordan, Dixon). Turnovers: 10 (Lue 3, Jordan 2, Hughes 2, Russell 2, Thomas). Steals: 11 (Jordan 4, Lue 3, Russell 3, Brown). Technical fouls: None. Cleveland29162118-84


A-20,173 (20,674). T-2:10. Officials-Mark Wunderlich, Tony Brothers, Phil Robinson.

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