- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Washington Wizards deserved this type of outcome against this type of team.

Facing the mighty Sacramento Kings last night, the Wizards, losers of so many ugly games in the past month alone, made all the big plays defensively and offensively to end their season-high, seven-game losing streak with a stirring 114-108 victory over the Kings.

Sharing the court with Chris Webber, a former Wizard, Kwame Brown was the dominant forward on the court, finishing with career highs in points (30) and rebounds (19). He did this playing all 48 minutes.

“Huge, man,” said Jerry Stackhouse, who came of the bench for the second consecutive night to score 21 points and deal seven assists. “He’s growing up. He’s getting better. To have 30 points and 19 rebounds and to play the way he did was huge.”

Brown, who made 12 of 16 shots, established himself from the start, going 7-for-7 from the floor and scoring 16 points in the first quarter.

“We knew they were going to underestimate us,” he said. “The loss in New York made everybody hungry. We just came out and said we were going to play hard. And with that intensity against a team that underestimated us we got the win.”

Brown’s performance received a standing ovation from 15,255 at MCI Center and ended Gilbert Arenas’ string of 11 games where he led the Wizards (21-46) in scoring. Still, Arenas turned in another star-quality performance.

Matched up against Mike Bibby for most of the night, Arenas scored 27 points, handed out 10 assists and finished with a career-high eight steals, good enough to match Juan Dixon’s MCI record.

Mitchell Butler, who started in place of Stackhouse, scored a season-high 13 points. He also added a career-high eight assists and played tenacious defense.

“He stepped up for us in the last two games,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.

Stackhouse, who told Jordan that he wants to come off the bench for the time being, scored 10 points in a crucial stretch late in the third quarter.

The Wizards were the more physical team. Washington won the rebounding battle, 42-33, and had 18 offensive rebounds compared to seven for the Kings. Still, the Kings did shoot an impressive 56.2 percent (41 of 73).

The Kings (49-19), the best team in the Western Conference, were paced by Predrag Stojakovic’s 25 points and Bibby’s 20. Doug Christie finished with 17 points. However, Webber, appearing in his ninth game of the season, looked lethargic on his way to 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

“Chris Webber is not himself yet,” Jordan said. “You can see it on tape, and you can see it before the game. He doesn’t have his lift. He doesn’t have anything but his feel for the game. Physically, he’s not the Chris Webber that we know.”

Arenas put the Wizards ahead for good when he sank a 3-pointer that gave them a 65-64 lead with 5:52 to play in the third. And they held off the Kings late in the game when Sacramento started to make a move.

The Kings whittled away what had been a 100-91 lead to pull within 105-103 on Brad Miller’s free throws. But instead of wilting, the Wizards got back-to-back baskets by Butler and Etan Thomas (12 points), and two more free throws from Arenas restored the lead to 111-103 with 1:01 to play.

“I thought everyone played with a lot of confidence,” Stackhouse said. “When we got to the clutch of the game, everybody played confident. We had the opportunity to call timeouts, and that helped us at the end of the game.”

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