- The Washington Times - Monday, December 18, 2000

Wizards 103, Clippers 94

LOS ANGELES Last night the Washington Wizards dove for loose balls, snared the unlikely rebounds and even hit the clutch baskets that so many teams have been able to make against them, and it paid off.

With Juwan Howard and Richard Hamilton carrying the load, the Wizards ended one of the ugliest stretches in their recent history last night at the Staples Center, ending a nine-game losing streak the fourth longest in franchise history with a 103-94 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The victory ended the possibility that the Wizards might match or beat the franchise record for the worst start in history 4-21 which was set by the 1967-68 Baltimore Bullets.

Before last night's much-needed victory, the Wizards (5-19) had gone without a victory since they beat the Milwaukee Bucks at MCI Center on Nov. 25. The win also marked the first time the Wizards have won on the road since they defeated the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 7.

Howard led the Wizards with a season-high 31 points, with 26 of them coming in the second half. Hamilton matched his season-high with 30 points. Lamar Odom led the Clippers (8-18) with 20 points

From an incentive standpoint, the Wizards had every reason to come out and beat the Clippers, who earlier in the season rallied from 21 points down to beat them at MCI Center 93-88.

In addition, the Clippers were coming off of their biggest win of the season - two days earlier they snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Phoenix Suns.

Washington led by four points at the half but was having a hard time hitting its shots. As a result, Wizard coach Leonard Hamilton went with reserves Hamilton and Gerard King in place of Felipe Lopez and Tyrone Nesby. Hamilton was strong all night long, hitting jump shots and slashing to the baskets.

However, King, who picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter, finished with nine points and five rebounds. Point guard Rod Strickland had 12 points and 10 assists, and the Wizards turned the ball over just eight turnovers.

The Wizards, who led 46-42 at halftime, got a big boost from Howard in the third quarter. The Wizards scored 31 points in the quarter and Howard hit for 16 of them. In fact, Howard and Odom, the Clippers best player at just 21 years old, pretty much tuned their teammates out in the quarter. They jawed back and forth at each other in their own game within a game. Odom sprang for 14 of the Clippers' 30 points as the Clippers, who trailed by eight points in the quarter, reduced the Wizards' lead to 77-72 going into the fourth.

Hamilton strapped the Wizards on his back early, scoring 10 of his 16 first half points in the first quarter, which ended in a 26-26 tie.

Washington was able to establish some type of rhythm early in the second quarter, while the Clippers played like, well, the Clippers.

After a basket from Los Angeles forward Brian Skinner put the Clippers ahead 28-26, Washington responded with nine unanswered points to go ahead 35-28. The Wizards turned it up on the defensive end as well, limiting the Clippers to just two baskets in the first five minutes of the quarter.

The Clippers looked to have shaken off the doldrums toward the end of the quarter. Rookie Darius Miles added a pair of acrobatic baskets - a dunk and an under-handed layup and the Clippers were able to get out on the break right before halftime as they closed the gap to trail by just 46-42 at the half.

Hamilton almost single-handedly carried the Wizards in the first half. Washington made just 32 percent of its shots in the first half, and that number would have been a lot lower had it not been for Hamilton's 6 for 11. Minus Hamilton's hot hand, Washington made just 10 of 39 shots from the field.

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