- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

The Washington Wizards are trying to grow by taking baby steps. The step they took last night was more like a giant leap.

Facing a strong Dallas team that believes anything less than a championship is failure, the Wizards stunned the Mavericks 100-90 at MCI Center.

“We’re 2-2 right now,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “I don’t know if this is going to catapult us to five in a row or just make us feel good about ourselves. I’m taking it day to day now. I think we’re going to have a good practice tomorrow, that’s all.”

The Wizards appeared to be the far quicker and more energetic team last night as they ended a three-game losing streak to the Mavericks (3-2) and a two-game losing streak this season. The victory also ended a seven-game home losing streak that dated to March15.

The Wizards, who led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter, broke the franchise record of 12 3-pointers by connecting on 13 of 30. Larry Hughes finished with a career-high five treys and 19 points. The 30 attempts represent the Wizards’ most since they tried 30 on Nov.20, 1996, against Seattle.

“We ran our offense to get open looks and allow us to stand right on the line and take 3s,” Hughes said. “We didn’t have to take tough shots two and three feet behind the line. We were right on the line shooting jump shots.”

Point guard Gilbert Arenas notched the team’s first triple double since Rod Strickland against Orlando on March28, 1999. With 17,455 watching, including Gilbert Arenas Sr., the Wizards’ big-ticket free agent finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

“He was the catalyst tonight,” Jordan said. “Everyone pretty much followed him.”

Said Arenas: “You can see that something can happen great here once everybody matures as players on the floor and off. Tonight we showed glimpses of it.”

Even Kwame Brown’s lone basket was notable. With time running out in the first half, the former No.1 draft pick sank the first 3-pointer of his three-year NBA career.

Arenas led five players in double digits. Rookie Jarvis Hayes and Christian Laettner, the latter starting in place of Brendan Haywood, had 13 points each. Laettner also grabbed 13 rebounds. Juan Dixon led a steady group of reserves with 11 points and four assists.

Last night marked the second game in a row the Wizards faced a team missing a major player. Against New Jersey last week, the Nets were without Kenyon Martin. Last night Dallas got seven minutes from All-Star point guard Steve Nash before he left with a strained left shoulder. But that pretty much evened out because the Wizards were without leading scorer Jerry Stackhouse.

“The Wizards were good tonight,” Dallas coach Don Nelson said. “We watched film last night, and I was very concerned. I thought they did a lot of good things, and Eddie has done a great job here. They had four days to prepare for us, and I think it showed. They played a marvelous game and gave us more than we wanted.”

The Mavericks simply didn’t have an answer with Nash gone, something that is not usually the case with this team. Of their galaxy of talented players, none was worse than Dirk Nowitzki. A perennial All-Star, Nowitzki was pedestrian, finishing with seven points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Antawn Jamison led the Mavericks with 21 points in reserve.


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