Guard Michael Jordan was injured both times the Washington Wizards played the Portland Trail Blazers and Scottie Pippen last season. Tonight, Jordan will finally step onto the court against his longtime Chicago Bulls teammate, with whom he won six NBA titles.
"It is a little odd" seeing them on different teams, Wizards guard Jerry Stackhouse said. "It's almost as strange as seeing [Jordan] and I on the same team. . . . We have always known that combination of Michael-Scottie. Now you are seeing them play opposite, so that's a little different."
Despite playing in back-to-back games twice last week, Jordan practiced with the Wizards yesterday following an off day, and Coach Doug Collins said he showed no signs of problems from the increased workload.
Jordan did not speak to the media.
Coming in Third
Stackhouse cites the team's third-quarter performances the past four games as the reason for a defensive resurgence.
"[In] the third quarter, we allowed teams to get a little separation from there, and then we were just fighting back in the fourth quarter and always coming up a little short," Stackhouse said. "Now, we have been able to come out in the third quarter with energy and been able to kind of sustain our defense. That's been paying off for us."
The Wizards have clamped down on teams over the past four games, allowing 84 points per game -- 9.5 more points than the team scored during its previous six-game losing streak. During the losing streak, opponents averaged 24.7 points in the third quarter. In the last four games, that number shrank to 19.8.
Wizards assistant coach Patrick Ewing will be honored by the team he played with for much of his NBA career when the New York Knicks retire the center's No. 33 jersey this season.
The Knicks are considering three dates to honor Ewing, said Joe Favorito, Knicks vice president of public relations, though none of those dates involve games against the Wizards.
"I am looking forward to it. It's a great honor," Ewing said. "My friends and family are there and they will be able to attend. I was hoping it would be when we [the Wizards] got there, but oh well."
Instead, the Knicks will choose to honor the 17-year veteran before a game with Orlando on Feb. 28, against Milwaukee on March 16, or against Toronto on March 24. After 15 years in New York, he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics, and finished his career last season with the Magic.
The Wizards are off on each of the dates being considered by the Knicks, but Favorito said New York's game on Jan. 11 against the Wizards was not considered because it has already sold out.
"He played there for 15 years and I played a whole decade with him," said Wizards forward Charles Oakley, Ewing's former teammate. "He did a lot for the city and the city did a lot for him. One thing we didn't do was bring a championship, but he was in the finals twice."