Wizards Win on Oakley’s Defense
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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Charles Oakley hadn’t grumbled about his lack of playing time with the Washington Wizards. He would get his chance, coach Doug Collins had told him, it just might not come for a while.
It came in the fourth quarter Thursday night, and Oakley answered the call.
In his first game since a brief appearance in the season opener, Oakley became a defensive enforcer right up to the final buzzer, twice disrupting DeShawn Stevenson’s potential game-tying shot in the Washington Wizards’ 105-102 victory over the Utah Jazz.
``Oak came in on a minute’s notice and played a heck of a ballgame,″ said Michael Jordan, who scored 19 points in 34 minutes for the Wizards. ``That’s what a consummate pro’s all about, waiting for that call when the time comes. He stepped in and did his job, and I hope our young kids can learn from that.″
Jerry Stackhouse scored 25 points and went 14-for-14 from the free-throw line as Collins got his 300th career victory.
But it was Oakley who made the difference after the Wizards blew a 21-point first-half lead. Utah led by five when Oakley got off the bench with 6:56 left _ to huge cheers from the crowd.
``I wanted somebody who was going to keep Karl Malone from just laying the ball in the basket, because he was having his way,″ Collins said. ``I knew the minute Oak stood up it would rev up the crowd. I just hoped we would get good results. Sometimes you’ve got to gamble as a coach, and we were going south fast.″
Collins said he met with Oakley 10 days ago to assure him he would get chances to play. Otherwise, Oakley’s main contributions had been to tutor young forwards Kwame Brown and Brendan Haywood and lift weights as part of Jordan’s ``Breakfast Club.″
``I’m old,″ said Oakley, who turns 39 next month, ``but I still have a feel for the game. I’m a warrior. I want to play, and I just wait for my turn.″
There were two double technicals after Oakley entered. He didn’t get either, but his presence had turned up the intensity. He also stole the ball from John Stockton to set up a layup for Jordan that put the Wizards up by five with 2 minutes left.
Elsewhere in the NBA, it was Philadelphia 99, San Antonio 94, and Orlando 101, the Los Anhgeles Clippers 80.
The Jazz cut it to three and had a chance to tie on their final possession, but Oakley twice knocked the ball out of Stevenson’s hands at the 3-point arc. Stevenson never got off the shot.
``He brings toughness, and he’s got the quickest hands in the NBA. Still,″ Collins said. ``Did you see the last two plays he made? Like a cat.″
Oakley’s big finish overshadowed Bryon Russell’s revenge night. Russell, who played nine seasons for the Jazz before leaving as a free agent this summer, scored 10 of his 16 points in his first game against his old team. He and Matt Harpring had one of the double technicals.
``I’m glad we won. Believe me, I didn’t want to lose to Utah,″ Russell said. ``That’s how that is. I feel like we ain’t going to lose to them, and we shouldn’t.″
Malone scored 26 points, and Stockton had 17 points and 11 assists before fouling out in the final minute. The Jazz were sloppy early in their third road game in four nights, digging a big hole with 12 first-half turnovers before rallying to trail by eight at the break.
``It’s not how we finish a game, it’s how we start,″ Malone said. ``We have to be interested in playing. Everybody wants to talk about offense, but we have to start thinking about playing defense.″
76ers 99, Spurs 94
At Philadelphia, Allen Iverson scored 37 points, including a go-ahead basket in the final minute after coming back from an ankle injury to lead the 76ers.
The Sixers snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 5-0 at the First Union Center. San Antonio has lost three straight after winning three in a row.
Keith Van Horn had 21 points and nine rebounds, Brian Skinner added 13 points and 11 rebounds and Aaron McKie had 12 points and nine boards for the Sixers.
Tim Duncan had 29 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs.
Iverson briefly left after hurting his left ankle with 8:08 remaining. He got his ankle taped, returned 2 minutes later and made a driving layup and a 3-pointer to give the Sixers an 87-83 lead.
Magic 101, Clippers 80
At Los Angeles, NBA scoring leader Tracy McGrady had 35 points, including a spectacular drive-and-float dunk as Orlando took charge in the third quarter.
McGrady went 14-of-26 from the field for Orlando, which snapped a two-game losing streak after a 5-1 start.
Grant Hill had 17 points and nine rebounds, and Pat Garrity added 14 points in reserve for the Magic, who were missing usual sixth man Mike Miller because of an ankle injury.
Corey Maggette and Michael Olowokandi had 16 points each for the Clippers, who made 19 turnovers that the Magic converted into 26 points.