Four days after turning 40, Michael Jordan scored 43 points in 43 minutes.
Jordan became the first 40-year-old in NBA history to score 40 or more points, also hitting the game-winning shot as the Washington Wizards beat the New Jersey Nets 89-86 Friday night.
Already the oldest player in NBA history to score 40, Jordan made 18 of 30 shots and 7 of 8 free throws. He also made the hustle move of the night, sprawling on the floor to save the ball after making a steal in the first quarter.
Jordan's driving layup with 34 seconds to play put Wizards ahead 87-86. Jerry Stackhouse, an 87 percent foul shooter who was 0-for-4 from the line to that point, made a pair to finish the scoring as the Wizards broke a six-game losing streak to the Atlantic Division leaders.
The victory came at a crucial time for the Wizards, who had dropped three of four and had just lost their third-leading scorer, Larry Hughes, for three weeks with a sprained ankle.
Jordan even survived a hit to his left eye with 1:30 to play, requiring the Wizards to spend a timeout. He made one of two free throws to tie the score at 84.
Aaron Williams' hook shot put the Nets ahead by two, and Christian Laettner made one of two free throws to cut the lead to one. Then Jordan drove aggressively to the basket to put the Wizards ahead for good.
Richard Jefferson scored 25 points to lead the Nets.
Jordan hit the 40-point mark on two free throws with 4:09 to play, giving the Wizards an 81-79 lead. During one stretch, Jordan scored 16 of the Wizards' 20 points, including eight in a row to start the second half.
The game was action-packed. Jordan made two poke steals in the first quarter, taking the first one in for a two-handed dunk and diving on the court to save the second one from going out of bounds near midcourt.
Jordan sat down at the end of the first quarter with the Nets leading 21-20, and the Wizards hit a slump, missing seven straight shots in a 14-4 Nets run that put New Jersey ahead 35-24.
Wizards forward Etan Thomas, already playing with eight stitches in his lower lip from a cut he got in practice, got whacked in the left eye and cheekbone during New Jersey's run and had to leave the game for X-rays.
Nets guard Lucious Harris evened that out by getting himself ejected with two technical fouls in 25 seconds on a disputed non-call.
Jefferson's reverse slam on Jason Kidd's alley-oop pass was another highlight, but Jordan put on his own reel with eight of Washington's last 12 points in the half. He dusted Jefferson with an amazing move to the basket, drawing a foul that would have set up a three-point play if Charles Oakley hadn't interfered with the basket.
Jordan was 4-for-5 in the second quarter and had 20 points as the Wizards trailed 45-44 at the break. He kept the pace with four straight jumpers for Washington's first eight points of the second half.
Jordan later gave as contemptuous look at Kenyon Martin before taking a quick dribble to the left and hitting a 16-footer. He also nailed another jumper from the left wing over Kidd at the shot-clock buzzer.
Jordan had 14 of Washington's 25 points in the quarter, and the Wizards led 69-68 to start the fourth.
Notes: Hughes sprained his right ankle Wednesday night in the loss at New Orleans. ... Washington's notorious bad traffic was even worse Friday with piles of snow blocking streets and a steady rain falling. Both coaches were caught in gridlock, each arriving less than an hour before tipoff. "It took me an hour and 20 minutes to go a mile and two-tenths," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. ... The Nets lost on a Friday for the first time this season, dropping to 12-1. ... The Wizards are 7-1 in games decided by three points or less.