Hornets end Wizards' winning streak
Michael Jordan brought the fans out to the Charlotte Coliseum last night.
Then the Charlotte Hornets sent them home happy.
The Hornets rose to the occasion in front of a sellout crowd of 23,799 with one of their more inspired performances of the season to beat Jordan and the Washington Wizards 99-93.
They overcame a nine-point deficit in the second half and then led by as many as nine down the stretch, holding on thanks to a gutty effort from a hobbling Baron Davis.
In the process, the Hornets snapped the Wizards' nine-game winning streak and broke out of a funk in which they had lost four of their previous five.
"There was a lot at stake tonight and we responded well," center Elden Campbell said. "We wanted to come out tonight and put on a good show and hopefully win some fans back, and I think we did. It's great when you can play your best in a situation like that. Hopefully, we can build on this now."
The sellout was the Hornets' first of the season, after they had drawn an average of just 10,180 in their first 10 home dates. It was the largest crowd at the Coliseum since March 17, 2000, when the Hornets drew 23,799 in a loss to the New York Knicks.
"They cheered Michael in the introductions and they cheered for Hubert Davis, which is to be expected because they're Carolina guys," guard David Wesley said. "But for the most part, I felt like the fans were here to see us play Jordan. I'm pretty happy about that. They supported us and we got a win, so maybe they'll come back and see another one now."
The Hornets are 13-15 with Milwaukee next on tap here Friday night.
"I think it was a good collective effort tonight," Wesley said. "We were due and they were going to end up losing sometime, and it all just came together. We had a lot of guys step up and do their jobs tonight, and that's what we need every night. This really was a good night for us."
Campbell led a balanced Hornets attack with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Davis, who bumped knees with Jordan early in the first quarter but went on to play 38 minutes in pain anyway, finished with 15 points, 15 assists and hit a 17-footer with 35.6 seconds left that put the game on ice. Lee Nailon scored 12, Wesley and P.J. Brown scored 11 each, and Stacey Augmon scored 10 off the bench.
The Hornets shot 59.7 percent from the field, on 40 of 67.
Jordan led the Wizards, 14-13, with 28 points. But he was just 11 of 28 from the field and did most of his scoring early and late, with 11 in the first quarter and 13 in the fourth.
"I think we had a little lapse defensively tonight after having three days off," Jordan said. "We did not execute defensively. We had some problems with their zone, too, and we didn't establish any inside game, but I think our defense is really what let us down."
The Wizards led 57-52 at halftime and pushed the lead to 63-54 early in the third quarter, but the Hornets eventually fought back to outscore the Wizards 21-15 in the period for a 73-72 lead going into the fourth.
"I thought the key to the game was holding them to 15 points in the third quarter," Coach Paul Silas said. "We played great defense in that stretch and that kinda turned the momentum our way the rest of the game."
The Hornets then pushed the lead out to 93-84 going into the last two minutes, and the Wizards never got closer than four again.
Davis was in pain afterward.
"I feel terrible," he said. "I couldn't bend my knee late in the game. But this was a game that we needed. We needed to get back on the winning track and we needed to get back to playing tough basketball. If we can play this kind of tough basketball and play 48 minutes like we did tonight, we'll be all right."