Jordan to play home finale
WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- Michael Jordan will play his final home game Monday night when the Washington Wizards host the New York Knicks at the MCI Center.
On Saturday, one day after his team was eliminated from playoff contention, Jordan missed a potential game-winning jumper from just inside the top of the arc with one second remaining as the Wizards fell to Atlanta, 101-100.
Christian Laettner contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Jordan added 17 points for the Wizards, who were playing their second straight game without Jerry Stackhouse (right knee tendinitis).
Jordan concludes his legendary career at Philadelphia on Wednesday.
"It's passed quickly," Jordan told the Washington Post about the last two years. "It doesn't feel like two years, but I know it's coming to an end. It's been a great two years. It's been fun. I'm enjoying what's left of my career. It's going fast, and that's what good things do. They leave fast, and you try to catch up with the memories another day. I'm trying to bring a certain joy to the game and to the fans here (in Washington) the way I play the game even at my age. When I walk off the court, my dedication is to the game. I still have an obligation to take what I've learned and what I've seen over two years, and try to build this franchise in a winning way and to help these fans enjoy the moment."
The Knicks lost at league-worst Cleveland in overtime on Saturday, 104-99, after blowing a 15-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Kurt Thomas scored 23 points and Shandon Anderson added a season-high 21 for the Knicks, who went more than 11 minutes without a basket late in regulation and most of overtime.
The Wizards won the first two meetings between the teams, including a 100-97 triumph at MCI on Dec. 7. The Knicks won the most recent meeting, 97-96, on March 9.
Malone, Bibby named to Team USA
The two became fifth and sixth members of the 2003 USA National Team that will participate in the 2004 Olympics. The player selections were made by the Senior National Team Committee of USA Basketball.
"I don't think you can have a better representative than Karl for our USA team," said USA Coach Larry Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers. "He stands for everything that's important about our sport. He's been a star for a long time, and a great example for young players. Mike has had a great deal to do with the success of Sacramento, and everybody is aware of how good that team is. He's a young, up and coming star. He's team conscious and should fit in extremely well."
Tim Duncan, Tracy McGrady, Jason Kidd, and Ray Allen already had been chosen for the team, which must qualify for the 2004 Olympics by finishing among the top three in the Tournament of the Americas in August in Puerto Rico.
"After naming the first six core players, we have a great mix of youth and experience and the foundation for one of the best teams that USA Basketball has ever assembled," said Senior Committee Chairman Stu Jackson.
It was Jackson's slip of the tongue during a teleconference last Thursday that touched off a cascade of curiosity around 76ers guard Allen Iverson. The NBA's Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations inadvertently blurted out, "By the way, AI made it."
Jackson and NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik steadfastly denied that a decision had been made either way on Iverson, the three-time NBA scoring champion, who made it clear that he wants to be selected.
With Brown as his coach in Philadelphia, it would be surprising if Iverson is not selected.
Minnesota Timberwolves are also expected to receive invitations.
Malone, 39, voted as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, is in his 18th season with the Jazz, and boasts career averages of 25.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Despite his age, the two-time MVP is averaging 20.7 points and 7.8 rebounds this season.
"Being the grandpa of the group, I'm kind of honored," Malone said. "I'll be 41 playing for the gold medal, so I'm excited about it. If somebody had told me I had the opportunity to play on one Olympic team, let alone three, I would have told them years ago they were lying."
Malone owns a pair of Olympic gold medals, having been part of the USA "Dream Teams" in 1992 and '96. David Robinson of San Antonio is the only American player to participate on three Olympic teams.
Bibby, who turns 25 in May, is in his fifth NBA season. He raised his stature in last year's playoffs, leading the Kings to the Western Conference finals. In Sacramento's 16 playoff games, Bibby averaged 20.3 points and 5.0 assists.
After missing the first 27 games this season following foot surgery, Bibby is averaging 15.9 points and 5.2 assists.
"I'm really honored to represent my country and play with some of the top players in the world," Bibby said.
Kidd and Bibby will play at point guard, with Ray Allen at shooting guard, and possibly Iverson and Bryant. The 6-9 McGrady can also play the backcourt, but likely will be moved to small forward since the team would not have a need for more than five guards.
The 12-member roster will be completed later in the spring with three more core players and three role players.
Paxson named Bulls GM
CHICAGO, April 14 (UPI) -- The Chicago Bulls will hold a news conference late Monday to announce the hiring of John Paxson as their new Executive Vice President and General Manager.
Paxson replaces Jerry Krause, who resigned a week ago, citing health problems.
Paxson, a player, assistant coach, and broadcaster for the Bulls, was selected over B.J. Armstrong, another former Bull with championship rings, who is in his third season as a special assistant to the general manager.
Paxson spent all but two years of his 11-year career with the Bulls, and was a valuable shooter on three straight championship teams, led by Michael Jordan, from 1991-93. He is best known for hitting the winning three-pointer with 3.9 seconds left in Game Six of the 1993 NBA Finals against Phoenix, clinching the Bulls' third title.
After retiring in 1994, Paxson was a Bulls' assistant during the 1995-96 season, and has been a broadcaster for the team for seven years, both on radio and television.
Now Paxson, the brother of Cleveland General Manager Jim Paxson, must continue the rebuilding process of a team which bottomed out after the retirement of Jordan following the Bulls' sixth championship of the decade in 1997-98.
The Bulls are 29-52, with their final game of the season at home against Philadelphia on Wednesday. They have not made the playoffs since the departures of Jordan and coach Phil Jackson, but improved their win totals each of the last three years from 15 to 21 to 29.
Krause, 64, stepped down as Bulls' GM last Monday after 18 seasons on the job, ending a tenure that was among the most successful in NBA history.
Rod Thorn was the Bulls' general manager who drafted Jordan, but it was Krause who put the players around him, and added the coaching and administrative staff that helped win six NBA titles between 1991 and '98.
Krause has built the current Bulls around Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, and selected Jay Williams of Duke with the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. However, Krause was roundly criticized for trading Ron Artest, Brad Miller, and Ron Mercer to Indiana for Jalen Rose last season.
Weekly NBA honors for McGrady, Marion
NEW YORK, April 14 (UPI) -- Tracy McGrady of the Orlando Magic, who set a franchise record for points, on Monday was named the NBA Player of the Week for the Eastern Conference.
McGrady averaged 36.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in leading the Magic to a 3-0 record, and earned the award for the third time this season.
The Magic swingman has scored 2,385 points, eight more than Shaquille O'Neal totaled in the 1993-94 season. He also is averaging a league-leading 32.2 points per game.
Shawn Marion of the Phoenix Suns was honored in the Western Conference.
Marion averaged 26.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.75 steals in helping the Suns to a 4-0 record and the eighth and final playoff berth in the West.
Wings try to wake up in NHL playoffs
ANAHEIM, Calif., April 14 (UPI) -- Anaheim can put defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit brink of elimination Monday night in the NHL playoffs.
Thanks to Jean-Sebastien Giguere, the Mighty Ducks won a pair of one-goal decisions in Detroit in the first two games of the Western Conference quarterfinals, and now will host Game Three.
The first NHL playoff game in Minnesota since 1992 also will be held Monday night, when the Wild host the Colorado Avalanche in Game Three of their Western Conference quarterfinal. The teams split the first two games in Denver.
The Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues are also tied at one game apiece heading into Game Three at St. Louis.
In the East, the Presidents' Trophy-winning Ottawa Senators visit the New York Islanders, and the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Philadelphia Flyers. Each series is tied at one game apiece.
The Red Wings are hoping to duplicate last year's performance, when they dropped the first two games at home to the Canucks before winning four straight in the quarterfinals on the way to winning their third Stanley Cup in six years.
That series turned around in Game Three, when a 75-foot shot by two-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom trickled past Canucks goaltender Dan Cloutier, but it appears Giguere will not let that happen.
He has been spectacular in his first two career playoff games, recording 97 saves, while Curtis Joseph has struggled in his first postseason series as a member of the Red Wings.
Giguere and the Ducks trailed Game Two, 2-1, Saturday before Jason Krog tied the contest with 6:26 to play, and Steve Thomas scored the go-ahead goal with 4:14 remaining.
Anaheim has only won one playoff series in its history, a seven-game Western Conference quarterfinal against Phoenix in 1997.
The Ducks lost to eventual champion Detroit in that season's conference semifinals in four games, and again were swept by the Red Wings in the 1999 conference quarterfinals.
The Wild have no playoff history since entering the NHL in 1999-2000. This will be the first postseason game in Minnesota since the North Stars lost to Detroit in the 1992 division semifinals.
Minnesota went 25-13-3 at home in the regular season, including two overtime games against the Avalanche, one a win, and the other a tie.
The Wild won their first-ever playoff game, a 4-2 victory at Colorado last Wednesday as Dwayne Roloson stopped 39 shots. The Avalanche bounced back with a hard-fought 3-2 win on Saturday to even the series.
The Blues probably will not have Norris Trophy candidate Al MacInnis in the lineup for Game Three of their series with the Canucks. He was injured early in the first period of Saturday's 2-1 loss that squared things at one win apiece.
Cloutier bounced back from a shaky outing in Game One, a 6-0 win for the Blues, with a solid performance in Game Two. He was 54 seconds shy of a shutout when Pavol Demitra scored the Blues' lone goal on Saturday.
The Islanders hope to continue their postseason success at the Nassau Coliseum when they entertain the Senators. New York won all three home games in last year's first-round loss to Toronto, and is back on Long Island after earning a split in Ottawa.
"Our building is a tough place to play for opponents," said Islanders goaltender Garth Snow. "As long as we don't take dumb penalties at crucial times of the game, we should do well the next two games. We just have to score more goals than they do."
Ottawa bounced back from a lackluster effort in the series opener with a 3-0 victory in Game Two on Saturday as Marian Hossa scored a pair of goals. The Senators limited New York to 16 shots, and Patrick Lalime notched his fifth career playoff shutout.
The game ended with plenty of bad blood as three fights took place in the final 32 seconds.
Toronto is hoping a return home will help cure its offensive woes, although the Maple Leafs managed a split of the first two games in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia held a 31-10 edge in shots through the first two periods, and finished with a 36-17 advantage. The Flyers also had a 31-15 cushion in a 5-3 loss in Game One.
The lack of shot attempts has Toronto Coach Pat Quinn frustrated.
"This is the worst team I've ever had for (not) wanting to put the puck on the net," Quinn said. "They want to over-pass. How many times did you see that we tried to make that nice little pass to a soft area instead of whipping it at the net."
The New Jersey Devils are one win away from reaching the Eastern semifinals. Martin Brodeur recorded his 14th career playoff shutout Sunday as the Devils grabbed a commanding three games to none lead with a 3-0 blanking of the Boston Bruins.
The Edmonton Oilers took a surprising two games to one lead in their Western Conference series by scoring three times on four shots in a 3:05 span of the third period, and rallying for a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
ESPN, Wimbledon come to terms
BRISTOL, Conn., April 14 (UPI) -- ESPN has reached a four-year agreement with Wimbledon, giving the cable network three of the four Grand Slams of tennis.
The announcement was made Monday by Tim Phillips, chairman of The All- England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and George Bodenheimer, President of ESPN, Inc., and ABC Sports.
The agreement covers the 2003-06 tournaments, and ESPN and ESPN2 will offer over 100 hours of coverage for this year's event, beginning in June.
"Rarely has ESPN been this extensively involved in an event with the history, pageantry and tradition of Wimbledon," Bodenheimer said. "With this most venerable and storied Grand Slam, we have increased our commitment and stature within tennis to a level unprecedented in our industry."
The coverage will start June 21 with a special preview on ESPN2.
"We are delighted to welcome ESPN to Wimbledon," Phillips said. "With this wide-ranging agreement, ESPN will bring alive the stories and the color of The Championships to a vast audience utilizing their multi-media channels and great experience of sports telecasting."
Roddick loses at Monte Carlo
MONTE CARLO, Monaco, April 14 (UPI) -- Andy Roddick got off to a poor start in his spring claycourt campaign, losing to Albert Portas Monday at Monte Carlo.
It is the first round of the $2.45 million event at Monaco.
Portas took advantage of 33 unforced errors by Roddick, who was seeded third, and rolled to a 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 win on the red clay.
"I felt good in practice, and I had decent expectations coming in," said Roddick, who never had a break point in the match. "All it takes (to win) is something, just a little bit and things can start to go really well. Right now, I'm just looking for that something."
The other American in action Monday at the cliffside Monte Carlos Country club overlooking the Mediterranean also will be heading home early.
Mardy Fish took the first set, but ended up losing to claycourt specialist Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, 3-6, 6-1, 6-0. A former Monte Carlo champion, Kuerten, seeded 10th, is hoping for a fourth French Open title next month.
Two other seeds joined Roddick on the sidelines.
The top seed, Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, opened defense of his title with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Wayne Arthurs of Australia.
Ferrero postponed the start of his European clay season by a week to let an ankle injury heal.
"Physically, I feel fine," said the 22-year-old from Valencia. "I still have a slight problem with the ankle, but otherwise, everything is fine. I'll be playing a full clay schedule, that's what I need to prepare for the French Open."
Ferrero lost to compatriot Albert Costa last June in the French Open.
Other winners Monday included a pair of reigning Grand Slam runnersup.
David Nalbandian of Argentina, a finalist at Wimbledon, beat teenager Richard Gasquet, of France, 6-4, 6-0, and Rainer Schuettler, who lost to Andre Agassi in the Australia Open, beat France's Fabrice Santoro 6-1, 6-2.