- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Washington Wizards came up short in their bid for their first winning road trip against Western Conference teams since December 2001, falling to the Sacramento Kings 104-93 at Arco Arena last night in front of 17,317.

Last night’s loss to the Kings (17-7) dropped the Wizards’ record on this trip to 2-2. Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards (14-10) with 22 as a 14-point first half deficit proved to be too much for Washington.

The Wizards got as close as 91-87 late in the fourth, but the Kings held on.

Peja Stojakovic led the Kings with 26.

Sacramento is one of the hardest places for visiting teams to play — the Kings are 77-7 at home against Eastern Conference teams since 1999 — and the Wizards are no exception. The last time Washington won here was Dec.16, 1996, when Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was an assistant coach for the Kings, the franchise was called the Bullets and Chris Webber, the Kings’ best player, called Washington his basketball home.

The Wizards were holding out hope that Webber, who did not play in the Kings’ last game because of a sore left knee, would miss last night’s contest as well.

No such luck. Webber, who has not been the same athletic player since surgery on his left knee in 2003, started and finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

The Wizards erased the Kings’ 14-point first-half lead in the third quarter, scoring 10 straight points to pull within 64-63 with 6:57 left in the quarter.

But the Kings, winners of 16 of their last 19 games, ended the third quarter on top 80-71.

On Monday night, the Wizards beat the Golden State Warriors on an Arenas layup with 0.8 seconds left.

Arenas led the Wizards with 29 points against Golden State. The Wizards also got 25 from Larry Hughes and 18 from Antawn Jamison. The three had combined to average 75.7 points on the road trip before last night.

Against the Kings, however, there was little indication they would post those type of numbers, combining for 25 in the first half.

That wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Kings, who made 70 percent of their shots in the first quarter. Stojakovic gave Sacramento a 32-25 lead with a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter, part of a 15-0 Sacramento run that gave the Kings their biggest lead at 39-25.

But the Wizards’ ability to score in bunches returned in the second quarter. With a little more than six minutes to play in the half, Anthony Peeler’s 3-pointer pulled Washington within 47-41.

After Brad Miller nailed a pair of free throws to give the Kings a 52-41 lead, Washington scored six straight, capping the run on a basket by Hughes. But the Wizards did not score again in the half and went into the locker room trailing the Kings 56-47.

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