Wizards 90, 76ers 76

Saturday, November 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Michael Jordan couldn't take over the game, so Richard Hamilton did.

It was No. 32, not No. 23, who almost single-handedly made up a double-digit deficit, accounting for 11 points in a 13-0 game-tying run to swing the momentum to the Washington Wizards in Saturday night's 90-76 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Hamilton scored 15 of his 29 points in the third quarter, overshadowing Jordan in the Wizards' home opener. Jordan struggled much of the night against the tenacious defense of Matt Harpring and had to settle for the supporting role: He had more assists (nine) than made baskets (seven).

Jordan's best move was the three-point play he converted to put the Wizards ahead for good after Hamilton's run. Stymied by Harpring's footwork, Jordan finished with 20 points on 7-for-21 shooting with six rebounds in 38 minutes.

It was hoped the game would be the season's first meeting between Jordan and Allen Iverson, but Iverson and teammates Aaron McKie and Eric Snow have yet to play because of injuries. As a result, the defending Eastern Conference champions are 0-3.

And the Wizards? They already have something they didn't have all last season: a winning record (2-1).

The 76ers, lacking an offensive punch, stayed in the game into the third quarter with Harpring's defense and the inability of the any of the non-Jordan Wizards to score. Hamilton was just 2-for-7 in the first half as Washington shot 32 percent.

But Hamilton made five straight shots, a free throw and had an assist to Jordan to rally the Wizards from a 48-35 deficit to a 48-all tie.

Jordan scored the next five points, catching Harpring off his feet in a rare moment to get the three-point play to make it 53-52, and then all the Wizards began to contribute. Jordan's points started a 31-6 run that lasted 12 minutes, including big baskets from Christian Laettner and Tyrone Nesby.

Rookie point guard Speedy Claxton led the 76ers with 22 points.

Harpring limited Jordan to eight points on 4-for-13 shooting in the first half, causing Jordan to look less for his shot and more for the pass. With his team trailing, Jordan angrily slammed the ball to the court as he headed to the bench during a timeout in the second quarter, then snatched his towel from the bench attendant at the next timeout a few minutes later. He traveled trying to go around Harpring on the first possession of the second half.

Notes: Iverson averaged 31 points when the 76ers swept all four games from the Wizards last season. ... Wizards forward Eton Thomas missed the game with a sinus infection. ... Wizards rookie Kwame Brown missed his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. Coach Doug Collins said Brown would also miss Sunday's game at Detroit. ... Before the game, a member of the unprecedented media hoard asked Collins about the Wizards' chances of winning the East. ``Two days ago, we were the Bad News Bears,'' Collins said. ``Funny what one win will do for you, isn't it?'' ... Jordan's latest claim to fame: In a pregame ceremony, Mayor Anthony Williams called the new Wizards star an ``economic stimulus package right here in the nation's capital.''