NEW YORK (AP) Michael Jordan wasn”t exactly No. 23 of old and he missed his biggest shot of the night in his return to the NBA.
Looking more like a promising playmaker than one of the game”s greats, Jordan spent the majority of his minutes at point guard in his regular-season debut for the Washington Wizards after a 3-year retirement.
He scored 19 points and passed the ball as much as he shot it, getting six assists but making a few key mistakes that the old Jordan might not have made in a 93-91 loss last night to the New York Knicks.
Jordan had a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer from in front of the Knicks” bench with 18 seconds left, but missed the shot one of 14 misses in 21 attempts. He also had two turnovers late in the fourth, and an airball and a missed layup in the first quarter that diminished a final stat line that included five rebounds and four steals in 37 minutes.
The Knicks took an 87-86 lead into the final two minutes, and after Latrell Sprewell hit a turnaround, Jordan answered with a 21-footer his first field goal of the quarter to cut New York”s lead to 89-88.
The 38-year-old Jordan missed his next shot, also a jumper, and then failed to outjump Kurt Thomas, allowing him to grab an offensive rebound. That led to a pair of foul shots by Othella Harrington with 34 seconds left to give New York a three-point lead.
Jordan threw an ill-advised pass that was stolen on Washington”s next possession, but Christian Laettner stole the ball back. After Jordan missed the 3-point attempt, Thomas was fouled on the rebound and made both shots for a 93-88 lead that all but ended it.
As bad as his teammates looked for three quarters, they managed to open the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run and take a 71-69 lead before Jordan checked in with 8:57 left. Jordan hit his next shot and got an assist on his next pass, helping the Wizards maintain a slim lead.
The game stayed close the rest of the way, setting up an ending that could have been dramatic if Jordan had been a little more accurate with his shot. He ended up missing four of his final five attempts and showed no emotion when the game ended.