Pistons 95, Wizards 85

Friday, October 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ The faces of Michael Jordan were familiar to everyone.

A smiling Jordan pounded fists and joked with Detroit's Cliff Robinson seconds before his first game since 1998.

But when he blocked the game's first shot _ from Ben Wallace _ the cold stare from one of the fiercest competitors in sports history appeared again.

Jordan, playing in a Washington uniform for the first time, scored eight points in 17 first-half minutes as the Pistons beat the Wizards 95-85 in a preseason game before a sellout crowd at The Palace on Thursday night.

When he walked off the court, with fans hanging over rails hoping to touch him on his way to the locker room, he was asked if he had fun.

``I did,'' Jordan said with a grin. ``And I'll have more fun when I play a little more next time.''

The Wizards' next preseason game will be Saturday at Miami.

Jordan seemed to enjoy his second return to the NBA. He joked with Pistons players and coaches, referees and even fans sitting at courtside.

``I seemed very relaxed out there, but I was very competitive,'' Jordan said. ``Hopefully, that will continue to be my makeup as a player. I just want to enjoy this because I don't know when it's going to come to an end.''

Jordan played the opening 8:08 of the first quarter and the first 8:25 of the second. The crowd chanted ``We Want Jordan'' in the third quarter and ``We Want Michael'' in the fourth, but he didn't play.

After Jordan's block, he missed his first shot, a 3-pointer, and made his second _ a 20-foot jumper over Corliss Williamson _ for the first points of the game. He was 4-of-8 and had three rebounds, two turnovers, a steal and the block

Used as the primary ballhandler, Jordan showed off a few perimeter moves to free himself for jumpers. He had one chance to dunk the ball, but instead dropped in an alley-oop layup off a pass from Courtney Alexander.

``I'm not going to try to do something that I'm not prepared to do right now, but I did score,'' Jordan said. ``And even though it's not as it once was, a beautiful tomahawk alley-oop, it may be a dunk in a couple weeks.''

Matched defensively in the first quarter against Williamson, a small forward, Jordan was beaten once on a backdoor play and failed to box out on a rebound, leading to a tip-in by Williamson.

Pistons reserve guard Jon Barry got the best of Jordan twice in the second quarter, driving around him for a reverse layup and then popping open for a 3-pointer when Jordan did not fight through a screen.

``Nobody is going to have mercy on him, I don't care if he's 38 or 58,'' Barry said. ``He had his feast on us, maybe if things don't work out, we can feast on him a little bit.''

The Wizards were outscored 23-7 when Jordan was on the floor in the second quarter, and official Steve Javie even whistled him for a palming violation that drew astonished hoots from the crowd.

Jerry Stackhouse of Detroit led all scorers with 30 points. Richard Hamilton had 24 for Washington.

Jordan played small forward _ or point forward _ in his first game since beating the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

But he's doing more than just posting up, shooting jumpers, passing and playing defense.

Jordan is a mentor on the floor. He had a few words for rookie Brendan Haywood after he committed a foul, and Jordan patted Chris Whitney on the head in encouraging fashion during a timeout.

While Jordan shot jumpers before the game, he did a double-take when a familiar face tossed him a pass.

It was Jordan Dumars, the 10-year-old son of Joe Dumars, the Pistons' president and former Jordan foe.

``He said, 'It's good to see you,''' said Jordan Dumars, who is not named after Michael.

When Jordan Dumars was asked if he remembered seeing Michael Jordan play for the Chicago Bulls, he paused for a few seconds.

``I remember him playing when I was 7 years old,'' he said. ``It's going to be fun to watch him this year.''