- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Washington Wizards made putting the ball in the basket look like an impossible task when the game was on the line against the Sacramento Kings.

The Wizards fell to the Kings 100-92 last night at Arco Arena largely because of an almost nine-minute drought between fourth-quarter baskets by Kwame Brown (18 points, 15 rebounds) and Gilbert Arenas (team-high 27 points).

“You have to give them credit,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “Their defense stepped up to deny the wings. They really gutted it out. But we just ran into a team that knew how to win down the stretch.

“Just like all good playoff teams, teams that have been there, they know how to step it up and put the intensity on.”

After Brown’s hook shot with 11:28 left in the game got the Wizards within 78-76, Washington didn’t score another field goal until Arenas sank a 21-footer with 2:34 remaining. The basket pulled the Wizards, who trailed for most of the night but never by more than 11 points, within 92-85.

But the Wizards, who made just four of 17 field goals in the fourth quarter, gave up back-to-back baskets to Chris Webber (23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) and Mike Bibby (21 points, seven assists and no turnovers) to allow Sacramentos lead to reach 11 points with 1:23 left.

“It was just one of those spurts where we weren’t hitting anything and the crowd got into it,” said Arenas, who combined with starting backcourt mate Larry Hughes (18 points) to shoot just 15-for-42 from the floor and 1-for-10 from behind the 3-point line. “They played the same way the whole game. We were trying to attack. At that point the inside game and the outside game weren’t going.”

Sacramento’s Peja Stojakovic led all scorers with 29 points and 11 rebounds to help the Kings improve to 52-21.

The Wizards (23-50) didn’t limit their poor shooting to the fourth quarter. They shot just 37.3 percent for the game.

Had they shot better down the stretch, the Wizards, who defeated the Kings earlier this month at MCI Center, could have become the only team in the league to sweep the Kings this season.

The Wizards were far more physical underneath, outrebounding Sacramento 57-43. Washington had a 21-9 edge in offensive rebounds. The Wizards, however, filled their seemingly nightly double-digit quota for turnovers (19).

“Yeah, once again they killed us,” Jordan said

The Kings looked as if they might blow out the Wizards in the third quarter. After Washington scored the first eight points of the period, Sacramento outscored the Wizards 20-5 to lead 68-57 on Doug Christie’s dunk with 3:43 left in the quarter.

But the Wizards closed out the quarter with a 17-7 run, seemingly setting the stage for what should have been an exciting fourth quarter.

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