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Wizards are hometown heroes
The discrepancy between how the Washington Wizards play at home and on the road reached its zenith last night at Verizon Center.
Forty-eight hours after the Wizards talked about remaining together through the adversity of a franchise-worst 0-8 start away from home, a unified group authored its best win of the season, racing to a 31-point lead and ending the Dallas Mavericks' league-high winning streak at 12 games with a 106-97 win.
The win also ended the Wizards' six-game losing streak against the Mavericks that dated back to Nov. 5, 2003.
"We had the right personality among all five guys on the floor -- actually all 12 guys that were active because the bench was good," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We shared the basketball, we had a high assist total , and every starter scored in double figures. ... That's what we have to carry out on the road."
In a game that only could be described as cathartic, Washington (7-10) never trailed. And while the Mavericks (12-5) did cut the lead in the fourth quarter, the Wizards responded to preserve their win.
Yet it wasn't easy, because the Mavericks, down 83-52 midway through the third quarter, orchestrated a 43-19 run that pulled them within 102-95 on Dirk Nowitzki's 3-pointer with 1:07 remaining in the game. But Washington's Antawn Jamison (20 points, 12 rebounds) then put the game out of reach with a layup.
Gilbert Arenas led all five of Washington's starters, all of whom finished in double figures for the second time this season, with a game-high 38 points on 15-for-27 shooting and handed out a game-high eight assists. Caron Butler came up one rebound shy of his eighth double-double of the season, but he did add a season-high seven assists to go with 14 points.
Etan Thomas notched his third double-double of the season, finishing with 10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, and DeShawn Stevenson scored 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting. Brendan Haywood led a decent effort off the bench, finishing with 10 rebounds and blocking a shot.
"It feels good," Arenas said of snapping the Mavericks' winning streak. "Actually, it feels great. It shows what we are capable of doing if we come out and play hard. But we have to get a streak of our own to catch up. We have to make up for lost time."
The next chance arrives in New York, where the awful Knicks notched a 20-point victory over the Wizards on Nov. 15. After getting a chance for revenge at Madison Square Garden, they will travel down I-95 for a crack at another bad team, the Philadelphia 76ers.
"We've got a chance to make up some ground with some of these teams coming up," Jamison said. "Hopefully, there'll be some kind of carryover from a good win like this."
Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 27 points and nine rebounds. Devin Harris, Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George each added 14 points. For the Mavericks, who made just 31 of 79 field goal attempts, the loss was their first since they dropped a 103-85 decision to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 8.
By Tom Fitton
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White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow