- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

It might have looked a bit irreverent when the injured Gilbert Arenas ducked out of Verizon Center yesterday before his Washington Wizards took on the Chicago Bulls. By game’s end, clairvoyant might have been the better word.

Had he stuck around, Arenas would have seen the Bulls disassemble the Wizards 101-68 in front of a sellout crowd (20,173) that was nowhere near that number by the time the third quarter ended.

The 68 points the Wizards scored are their fewest this season — the previous low was 73 against Portland in February — and tie the fourth lowest performance in franchise history, a 74-68 loss at Toronto on Oct. 30, 2002. The Wizards’ point total also marks the lowest output at home in franchise history (the previous low was 69 points against the Houston Rockets on March 26, 1993).

“What else can you say? I mean, we just played terrible,” Wizards guard Jarvis Hayes said. “The worst game of the year.”

Yesterday’s matinee wasn’t a contest at any point, over almost as soon as former Wizards player Ben Wallace won the opening tip. The Bulls scored the game’s first 12 points and led 23-5 with just more than four minutes to play in the first quarter.

The Wizards (40-40) scored just 14 points in the quarter and a season-low 27 points in the first half.

So lopsided was the game by the fourth quarter — in which the Wizards never pulled any closer than 27 points — that Bulls coach Scott Skiles used just one starter in the period — Ben Gordon — for two minutes.

“Hopefully that game is over,” said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, wanting to put the ugliest loss of the season behind him. “It came against a very good team that has a lot at stake. They were on a roll. Look, talent beat lesser talent tonight, and they did it in very good fashion.”

Already without Arenas (knee surgery) and Caron Butler (fractured hand), the Wizards — who have lost five in a row at home — were forced to play without Antonio Daniels, who bruised his back in Washington’s win against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

Second-year guard Donell Taylor — who hadn’t started since March 7, 2006 — replaced Daniels in the starting lineup. Taylor finished with a season-high 10 points, while leading the team with five assists.

Jordan said he hopes to have Daniels back in time for the playoffs, which begin next week.

“I wouldn’t say that he will be back for sure for the regular season,” Jordan said. “I just don’t know. I think the chances are good that he will be back for the playoffs. I just hope that he gets some playing time before the playoffs begin.”

DeShawn Stevenson led the Wizards with 13 points, and Etan Thomas finished with a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds). Hayes also finished with 11 points.

Antawn Jamison struggled, finishing with just eight points and five rebounds.

“I didn’t play well, and we didn’t play well as a team,” Jamison said. “Just throw it out the window and forget all about it. Learn from your mistakes as far as not bringing the energy that we need in order to compete but know that we still have two very important games before the playoffs even get started.”

Gordon paced Chicago with 30 points, while Luol Deng had 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Bulls (49-32) are the second seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Wizards are sixth. Washington — losers in seven of their last eight contests — would face the third-seeded Toronto Raptors if the regular season ended today.