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Jordan returns to form in Wizards' home opener

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Never before in their 56-year history have the
Boston Celtics been beaten so badly.

And who was on the other end of the 45-point loss? Michael Jordan, who suddenly doesn't look so old after all.

Shaking off a rusty performance that made him look all of his 39
years the night before, Jordan scored 21 points in 21 minutes and
ignited a rout with a four-point flourish at the end of the first
half as the Washington Wizards beat the Celtics 114-69 Thursday
night.

"In terms of what we all envisioned, in putting this team
together, tonight it worked perfectly,'' said Jordan, who
overhauled the roster over the summer. "I'd like to have about 55
more like this.''

Boston's previous worst regular-season loss was 44 points,
128-84 at Portland on Jan. 4, 1977. It was the third-largest margin
of victory in Wizards history.

"That surprises me -- all the games in that storied franchise,''
Washington coach Doug Collins said. "But trust me, I never in a
million years dreamed that this would have happened tonight.

"I had breakfast with my wife and I said, 'I hope we score 70
points tonight -- two more than last night -- at least show some
improvement.'''

In the Celtics locker room, coach Jim O'Brien and his players
found a lot of ways to say the same thing.

"We had a very bad night,'' O'Brien said. "We really did --
across the board. You can ask me a million questions, and we played
badly.''

At the end of the first half, Jordan made two free throws, raced
to his right to steal the inbounds pass, pumped and made a 21-foot
jumper -- complete with a little cancan kick -- just before the
halftime buzzer. The Wizards had an 18-point lead as he left the
court with a big smile to thunderous applause.

"A couple of turnovers, especially the two at the end of the
half that put us down eighteen, those kind of deflated us,'' said
Paul Pierce, who scored 12 points on 3-for-16 shooting. "Then we
couldn't make shots, and that affected us on the defensive end. And
then Mike comes out and hits a couple of fadeaway jumpers with good
defense on him to get the team going.''

Jordan scored just eight points and missed a dunk in the second
half of Wednesday's season-opening loss at Toronto. He had more
points than that in the second half against the Celtics. He was
8-of-15 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line and had
four rebounds and five assists.

Jerry Stackhouse had 22 points and 10 assists for Washington.
Kwame Brown, a disappointment as the No. 1 overall pick in the
draft a year ago, had his second solid game. He set the defensive
tone with four blocks in the first quarter and finished with 20
points, six rebounds and six blocks.

"Last year, I probably would have took the night off coming of
an OK game,'' Brown said. "This year, I'm trying to stay
consistent.''

The Celtics shot 30 percent one night after they lost their
opener at home to Chicago. Antoine Walker scored 12 points and was
5-of-16 from the field and is 10-of-39 in two games.

"From myself on down, we're worried about making shots,''
Walker said. "Tonight we got it handed to us.''

The Celtics were outrebounded 59-31.

The Wizards missed their first six shots and trailed by seven
points early, but it was the Celtics who couldn't hit a basket most
of the game. After Brown's early dominance inside, Boston shot from
well outside and watched them clank off the iron.

Jordan entered midway through the first quarter and tied it with
a 15-foot jumper. Later, he showed his still has some acceleration,
blowing past Tony Delk on the right wing and drawing a foul as he
approached the basket.

The four-point sequence at the end of the half put the Wizards
ahead 58-40. The Celtics never threatened in the second half, when
several of the big moments belonged to Brown.

The 20-year-old forward made a three-point play, dunked off a
feed from Jordan and had a stellar sequence in which he blocked
Walker at one end and made a jumper at the other to put the Wizards
ahead by 20.

Jordan had one of his old flourishes at the end of the third
quarter, making three straight tough jumpers in a 13-4 run. When
Jordan was called for a foul during the run, he vehemently put up
an argument that nearly drew a technical -- even though the Wizards
were leading by 27.

"That's as good as I think I've ever had a team play -- just in
every phase of the game,'' Collins said. "This was not the same
team I watched last night.''

Game notes
Brendan Haywood started at center for the Wizards, one
night after playing just 4 minutes in the opener. ... A moment of
silence was held before the game for Run-DMC rapper Jam Master Jay,
who was shot to death in New York on Wednesday. Run-DMC had been
scheduled to perform at halftime. ... With the game decided, the
crowd broke in chants of "We want Juan!'' early in the fourth
quarter. Juan Dixon, a first-round draft pick from Maryland,
entered to a standing ovation with 6:29 remaining. He scored six
points.