Washington 80; Seattle 74

SEATTLE, March 27 (UPI) -- Michael Jordan had three crucial baskets down the stretch Wednesday night as Washington survived a shaky fourth quarter for a critical 80-74 win at Seattle.

One night after winning in Portland, the Wizards picked up another big win to improve to 2-2 on six-game road trip that may determine their playoff fate.


Washington (34-37), which has not been to the postseason since 1997, also moved one-half game ahead of Milwaukee (34-38) for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference,

"It boils down to us taking care of business," Jordan said. "Every team is going to go through their periods. We have to worry about what we do. We can't really control what Milwaukee does. Every time we win, we move closer to the playoffs and every time we lose, we move further away from the playoffs. Hopefully the guys understand that and we can take every game one by one."

In the fourth quarter, the Wizards did not look anything like a playoff contender. They missed their first 10 shots and went nearly seven minutes without a basket.

When they needed offense, they went to the 40-year-old Jordan, and came through.


Jordan scored six straight Washington points, including a jumper with 1:45 left that opened a 73-67 lead.

"I told our guys, if we can get him the ball in rhythm where he doesn't have to work so hard, he's going to knock down those shots," said Washington Coach Doug Collins. "He hit some big, big shots."

Jordan finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Jerry Stackhouse added 20 points for the Wizards, who continue a brutal six-game West road swing Friday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers.

In the final stanza, Seattle was not much better. The Sonics missed eight of their first 10 shots in the final period, and failed to cut into a five-point deficit they faced entering the final 12 minutes.

"We struggled all game," said Seattle Coach Nate McMillan. "We had open looks throughout, but we were short on our shots. Point-blank range, we were missing layups. It wasn't just the second half, I thought it was the whole game."

A three-pointer by Tyronn Lue, the Wizards' first basket of the fourth quarter, with 5:37 remaining opened a 67-61 lead. Lue finished with 11 points and four assists.


After Ray Allen scored four straight points for the Sonics, Jordan converted a layup and a tough turnaround jumper over 6-10 Vladimir Radmanovic to make it 71-65 with 2:24 to play.

Rashard Lewis made a layup for the Sonics, but Jordan, who went 12-of-22 from the field, answered by drilling an 18-footer with 1:45 remaining.

"He (Jordan) was sharp after back-to-back games, and that just shows, once again, this guy's will and determination to win and find a way to get it done," McMillan said.

Allen netted 17 points, Brent Barry 15, and Lewis 14 for the Sonics, who shot 37 percent (31-of-74) and committed 14 turnovers.

Reggie Evans added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

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