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EVEN LAKERS DISAPPOINTED JORDAN SCORES CAREER-LOW TWO POINTS LAKERS 113, WASHINGTON 93.

Byline: Howard Beck Staff Writer

WASHINGTON - The Lakers held the greatest basketball player of all time to two points Tuesday night. Nothing could have been more disappointing. This was neither a Hallmark moment nor a satisfying achievement. It was so much less.

This was the Lakers running laps around the Washington Wizards, while Michael Jordan - 74 games into his second comeback, perhaps only eight games from his third retirement - rested a sore knee and recorded a statistical line no one ever dreamed possible.

Two points, 12 minutes. Career lows, both.

While the Wizards saved Jordan any unnecessary strain, the Lakers easily handled his young proteges in a 113-93 rout at MCI Center.

A national television audience watched Jordan make 1 of 5 field-goal attempts, pedal on a stationary bike and sit, while the player and team that inherited his legacy simply fine-tuned for another championship run.

It was as much of a disappointment for the Lakers as it was for fans.

``Kind of,'' said Devean George, who guarded Jordan. ``I was looking forward to the challenge and trying to play against (one of) the best players. It didn't seem like he had any lift, it didn't seem like he had a lot of energy tonight. Just seemed like he was dragging his legs.''

Of course, George can tell his kids someday that he held Jordan to a career low.

``Naw, I ain't going to take credit,'' he said. ``I'm going to say his knee was messed up. I saw him when he was on his downfall.''

Not that this matchup was supposed to carry much intrigue - one team fighting for a third championship, the other fighting for a playoff berth - but the Jordan angle always titillates. Last time the teams met, he and Kobe Bryant faced off a few times, the Wizards took a 20-point lead in the third quarter and the Staples Center crowd got a good ride as the Lakers came back for a 103-94 victory.

This time the game was over by the end of the first quarter, the Lakers having turned back a brief Wizards rally and taken a 37-24 lead. Jordan made a 21-foot jumper early in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 11 points. But the Lakers pulled away, and Washington coach Doug Collins, knowing he needed Jordan for a tough game tonight at Milwaukee, decided there was no point in playing him the second half.

``I'm disappointed we didn't make a game of it,'' Jordan said. ``In terms of my minutes or my points, I'm not worried about that. I'm not chasing anything. I'm not here to chase individual stats.''

Shaquille O'Neal scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in 31 minutes. Bryant finished with 14 points in 33 minutes.

Though the Lakers made up no ground on the Sacramento Kings, they accomplished their main goal - establishing the rout early enough to rest the starters for tonight's game against the East-leading New Jersey Nets.

Of course, the Lakers have gone this route before - resting the core group last week in an easy victory over Cleveland, only to get blown out the next night in Phoenix.

``Didn't work for us last week,'' coach Phil Jackson quipped. ``But hopefully they'll be ready (tonight) to play a game that's going to be very spirited and a very up-and-down game.''

That will stand in stark contrast to Tuesday's game, when the best thing the Wizards could say is they didn't lose ground in their pursuit of No. 8 Indiana. Washington also got a career-best 14-point effort from rookie Kwame Brown, Jordan's selection with the No. 1 overall pick last June.

That was Jordan's only real stamp on the game.

CAPTION(S):

photo, 2 boxes

Photo:

(color) Shaquille O'Neal swats the ball away from Washington rookie Kwame Brown, who finished with a career-high 14 points.

Nick Wass/Associated Press

Box:

(1) WESTERN STANDINGS

(2) GAME RECAP
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 3, 2002
Words:650
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