MIAMI, Oct. 13 (AP) --
This was the Michael Jordan
Jordan scored 18 points -- all in the first quarter -- as the Washington Wizards beat the Miami Heat 99-79 in an exhibition game Saturday night.
Jordan directs traffic early in the first quarter.
Fernando Medina/NBAE Photos
"I'm walking in an area where I feel comfortable," Jordan said. "I wouldn't have came back if I didn't think I was capable of playing like I did in the first quarter. I'm not saying I'm done yet. I'm still moving ... It was a good outing, but I will build on that, I promise you that."
In the second game of his comeback, the 38-year-old Jordan had a sellout crowd gasping with excitement throughout the first quarter.
He was 7-of-10 shooting and 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the first quarter. He missed his only shot in the second quarter. All of his shots were inside the 3-point line.
"He surprised me tonight," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "He had a lot of juice tonight. He has so much pride, and I think he was hearing whispers ... and he wanted to show he's still Michael Jordan.
"He really, really was fabulous."
Jordan left the game early in the second quarter and did not return. Richard Hamilton
also finished with 18 points for the Wizards.
Jordan started the game at shooting guard and played 12 minutes, including 11 in the first quarter.
He played some point forward, but not as much as he did in his debut. The Wizards, though, continued to run their offense through him in the post.
Jordan started at small forward against Detroit on Thursday. He had eight points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.
He had three rebounds and two steals against the Heat. He also had a turnover and a foul.
Jordan admitted to being somewhat fueled by criticism he received after his debut against the Pistons.
"A lot of things have been said that can feed to my motivation," he said. "People are jumping ahead of themselves, saying I don't look like I should. A lot of people don't look like they should in the first preseason game.
"How you start the season is how you're going to be judged. A lot of those comments were preliminary comments."
Jordan scored three of the Wizards' first four baskets, beating Ricky Davis
on consecutive mid-range jump shots. He also looked strong on defense, stripping the ball from Alonzo Mourning
in the low post and consistently keeping his opponent off the offensive boards.
Jordan's first miss came when he drove baseline and missed a reverse layup that rimmed out.
He bounced right back, though, hitting three more jumpers, including a pair of 18-footers, to give the Wizards a 18-9 lead in the first seven minutes of the game. He was 6-of-7 before taking a break.
His final basket before sitting down may have been the most telling.
Davis nearly stripped the ball from Jordan, but before Davis could get a handle on it, Jordan regained control. He immediately pulled up and nailed a 16-footer. All he could do was give a large smile as he backpedaled across the court.
"I'm moving in the right direction," he said. "I'm starting to get my wind, starting to get my rhythm down. I'm understanding the rules a little bit and understanding how teams are going to play me.
"I've still got 17 days (before the season begins), but as you can see I can still get in a rhythm."
Jordan sat out for a little more than a minute before returning for the remainder of the first quarter.
The Heat used Rodney Buford
and Kendall Gill
to guard him, but didn't have much more success.
"We didn't play Michael the way we wanted to," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "He made jumpers and got us in the air. He's a challenge for anyone, even a great defender. Putting young guys out there to defend him is another thing.
"He was making his shots and making his moves. Maybe next time we'll look at double-teaming him."
Jordan hit a jumper against Buford, then drew a foul against Gill in the post. On the ensuing possession, Jordan stole the ball and had a breakaway layup -- what would have been a good test of his dunking ability.
But Sam Mack
hacked Jordan on the arm from behind just as he started to leap toward the basket. Mack, who led the Heat with 18 points, received a lengthy boo from to home crowd. Jordan hit both free throws.
"I would have dunked it," Jordan said. "Most of you guys probably wanted to see if I still can dunk. I can still dunk. I promise you I wasn't going to take off from the free throw line, but I would have dunked the basketball."
The crowd became vocal again in the fourth quarter, chanting "We want Mike" on and off throughout the remainder of the game.
"This is a steady process. I'm not in a rush," Jordan said. "We'll just keep moving in the right direction."