WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Michael Jordan scored more than his age. And at 40 years old, that is an unmatched achievement.
Jordan became the first 40-year-old to reach the 40-point plateau, scoring 43 to lead the Washington Wizards to an 89-86 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
The third-leading scorer in NBA history, Jordan fell two points shy of his season high, set on February 1 - just two weeks before his 40th birthday. He made 18-of-30 shots from the floor, 7-of-8 free throws and grabbed 10 rebounds.
"It didn't even dawn on me, being the first 40-year-old to hit 40," Jordan said. "I read it on the stat sheet and thought it was a misprint. I set the tone early that I wanted to win this game."
The Wizards won for just the fifth time in their last 13 games and remained tied with Orlando for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
"It was a big game for us to get ourselves back in the playoff race, but it doesn't stop with this win," Jordan said. "We have 28 games left and I'm not going down with any bullets. It's the end of my career and I don't want to see it in a negative way."
"We were a fragile team tonight, confidence-wise," Washington coach Doug Collins said. "Michael gave us a huge dose of confidence. It was a great win for us. We needed to get this just to get that good feeling back again."
Despite Jordan's dominance, the Nets had an 86-84 lead after Aaron Williams buried a hook shot with 70 seconds left.
After Washington's Christian Laettner made 1-of-2 free throws, Jordan drove past Richard Jefferson for a layup to give the Wizards the lead for good with 34 seconds left.
It was the first basket in nearly 10 minutes for Jordan, who missed his previous five shots.
"I have so much respect for (Jordan)," said Jefferson, who guarded him most of the game. "I played well against him earlier in the season. You could just look in his eyes and tell that he had his legs under him and he was ready to go. I knew he wasn't going to let me get the best of him for the fourth time."
New Jersey's Jason Kidd hoisted a hurried 3-pointer and the Nets inexplicably waited until there were just three seconds left before fouling Jerry Stackhouse, who made both free throws.
Jefferson, who scored 25 points, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as New Jersey lost for the fourth time in its last five road games.
It was a bounce-back game for Jordan against a New Jersey defense that held him to just 13.7 points on 30 percent (16-of-52) shooting in three previous meetings this season.
"He went by us sometimes so quick that we didn't even have a chance to help," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "Knowing that we were coming in here probably motivated him because he knows that the last three games we've actually done a really good job covering him. He was more aggressive and it paid off for him."
Tyronn Lue scored 13 points, Stackhouse added 11 and Laettner grabbed 13 rebounds as the Wizards won for just the second time in five games since the All-Star break.
New Jersey had won the previous six meetings with Washington dating to December 31, 2001, when Jordan torched the Nets for 45 points.
Kenyon Martin had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Williams also scored 14 points for New Jersey, which shot just 42 percent (35-of-83) from the floor and made only 14-of-26 free throws.
The Nets' starting backcourt of All-Star Jason Kidd and Kerry Kittles combined for 17 points on 5-of-27 shooting.
New Jersey lost for the fourth time in seven games, despite outscoring Washington, 40-20, in the paint and holding a 19-2 advantage in fast-break points.