- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

One thing the Washington Wizards forgot to pack on this trip to New Orleans were their jester masks because, as has been the case in recent nights, they were a big joke.

Last night, with Mardi Gras looming, the Wizards lost to the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena, 120-98.

The Wizards have lost their last three games by an average of 24.3 points.

This latest loss wasn’t as bad as the two before it, mostly because the Wizards (16-36) played a decent first half before utterly collapsing.

Down by 60-57 following a basket by Kwame Brown with 9:13 left in the third, New Orleans (30-24) realized who it was playing and promptly went on a 19-2 run to lead go up by 20with 4:36 left.

Already stoked by the miniature parade at halftime that featured dancing girls and a midget, all tossing beaded necklaces into the stands, most of the fans had seen enough and began making their way toward Bourbon Street.

If the Wizards were hoping to put any of their players on display in hopes of luring someone into making a trade, last night showed just how little the Wizards have to offer.

Juan Dixon led the Wizards, losers of 14 of their last 15 road games, with 16 points, all of which came in the first half. Kwame Brown and Etan Thomas were the only other Wizards to reach double figures, finishing with 12 and 11, respectively.

Jamal Mashburn, one of five Hornets to score in double figures, led all scorers with 26 points. All-Star guard Baron Davis added 23 points and 13 points for the Hornets, who made 10 of 19 3-pointers and shot 54 percent.

The Wizards are 0-3 since losing guard Larry Hughes to a broken wrist, but it’s impossible to think that Hughes’ presence, or anybody else’s for that matter, could make much of a difference in the way the Wizards have looked recently.

They entered the game having lost back-to-back road games at Philadelphia and Houston by a combined 51 points.

After playing a decent first half of basketball in which the Wizards looked as if they might be competitive, Washington collapsed in the third quarter.

They pulled to within 60-57 after Kwame Brown backed PJ Brown inside for a bucket, but from that point on the rest of the third quarter was the stuff of nightmares.

New Orleans was coming off its best win of the season, an 89-75 shellacking of the Pacers in Indianapolis

Having lost their previous two games at Philadelphia and Houston by a combined 51 points, the Wizards began the night looking for someone to step up and give them some offense.

Early on that person was Dixon, the second-year player out of Maryland.

Dixon scored 13 of the Wizards first 19 points to start the game, and he was a big reason why the Wizards dissolved what had been a 12-4 New Orleans advantage to lead by 29-26 at the end of the first quarter.

Dixon’s hot start helped the Wizards overcome a miserable start to the game for Stackhouse and Arenas, who began the game shooting a combined 2-for-15 from the field.

Etan Thomas’ jumper two minutes into the second quarter gave the Wizards a 35-30 lead, but this was a margin that would not hold up.

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