- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 22, 2005

DENVER — Sometimes, Gilbert Arenas gets that look in his eyes, that look that says he’s focused and there’s no way he is going to let his team falter.

Last night was one of those nights.

Arenas notched his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 36 points and handing out 11 assists as the Wizards used a balanced effort to end their losing streak at three games with a 116-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center.

The Wizards (10-14) won for just the fifth time in their last 18 games and for the first time this season had all five starters score in double figures. Antawn Jamison finished with 20, Brendan Haywood added 14, Jared Jeffries fouled out with 10 points and six rebounds and Caron Butler, making his first start of the season, fouled out with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Reserve guard Antonio Daniels finished with 12 to help the Wizards to their first victory in Denver since March 20, 2002.

The victory was the first for the Wizards in four tries on their five-game western trip, which began with a loss at the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. It was the first Wizards road win since they defeated Detroit in double overtime Nov.25.

Arenas sealed the win when he netted a jumper over the extended arm of the Nuggets’ Earl Watson to give the Wizards a 110-100 lead with 1:30 to play.

The Wizards converted 54 percent of their field goals (45-for-84) and outrebounded the Nuggets 45-36.

Carmelo Anthony led the Nuggets with 29 points, and Marcus Camby added 23 points. Andre Miller also notched a double-double, finishing with 16 points and 11 assists.

The Nuggets, who came in riding a three-game losing streak, were playing their first home game after a not-so productive East Coast trip in which they dropped four of six games. Denver also played without diminutive Wizards killer Earl Boykins, who had a hamstring injury. The 5-foot-5 Boykins came off the bench in the Nuggets’ 108-105 victory at MCI Center on Nov. 22 to score 20.

After building a 35-27 lead early in the second quarter, the Wizards trailed by a basket at halftime.

But they made up for blowing the early lead by riding Arenas in the third quarter. Arenas scored 11 points in the quarter, which ended with the Wizards ahead 84-77.

The team announced before the game Butler would make his first start of the season.

Butler has talked about wanting to start this season, but he has maintained he was comfortable coming off the bench. But with wins hard to come by of late and starting two-guard Jarvis Hayes out indefinitely with a fractured knee, Butler got the nod to start in the backcourt opposite Arenas.

Butler started 77 games last season for the Lakers, but most of them came at small forward.

“We are ready to take a little bit of a scoring load off of Gil and Antawn,” Jordan said. “We still have Jared in the lineup because we want to use him at his position in somewhat of a Scottie Pippen-like role, where he can initiate the defense. I still like to have him on the floor because of that reason. Also, perhaps we can rebound a little bit better because now we are a taller team.”

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