- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 12, 2005

Perhaps the Washington Wizards generated so much adrenaline in beating the San Antonio Spurs two nights earlier that they had trouble getting excited about facing the Los Angeles Clippers.

Whatever the reason, the Wizards spent most of last night’s game puttering around on the MCI Center floor. But this team has players who can get them over the hump even on an off night. And in last night’s 94-91 victory over the Clippers, the one who did it was Antawn Jamison.

Jamison, coming off a monstrous game (35 points, 11 rebounds) against the Spurs on Wednesday night, broke a 90-90 tie when he took a pass from Gilbert Arenas (game-high 35 points, team-high nine assists) following a timeout, lined up the basket and connected on a 26-footer.

As he ran up the court, Jamison, who finished with 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting, shook his head and repeated to himself, “No doubt.”

“Guys have faith in me,” said the Wizards’ forward, who along with Arenas was named Tuesday to the Eastern Conference All-Star team. “When Coach [Eddie Jordan] drew up the play, we knew they would pay a lot of attention to Gilbert, which they did. He said, ‘Antawn you should be open.’ It’s just another chance to knock down a big shot. I had my mind made up that I was going to make that shot. It didn’t matter how I played the rest of the game up until that moment.”

After winning their final home game before next Sunday’s All-Star Game in Denver, the Wizards have a 30-19 record and a four-game winning streak. And in a season dotted with good omens, this one might be the best: In the five seasons when Washington has won at least 30 games before the break, all five of those teams played in the postseason.

The Wizards have won 12 of their last 14 home games. Since Larry Hughes broke his thumb last month, the Wizards are 8-6 heading into tonight’s game at Detroit.

But what probably delights Jordan more than anything is that hungry - not satisfied - talk is coming out of his players’ mouths.

“I always see other people talking about how we are beating teams without their star player,” Arenas said after scoring at least 30 points for the ninth time in his last 14 games. “We have not had our entire team for the whole season, but we are winning. I know once we get everybody back, we are going to be a dominant team.”

Last night, though, the Wizards were average for most of the night until it counted. They didn’t shoot the ball very well (33-for-77, 42.9 percent), and the Clippers (23-27) looked like the more energetic team in the second half although they were playing the fifth of an eight-game road trip.

Led by former Wizard Bobby Simmons (24 points), the Clippers’ bench outscored the Wizards’ reserves 40-11. Still, the Wizards led 90-85 after Brendan Haywood (13 points, nine rebounds) converted a three-point play with 3:20 remaining.

The Clippers responded with five straight points to tie it on a pair of free throws by Simmons. That set the stage for Jamison’s heroics out of the timeout.

Any chance the Clippers had at winning evaporated in the final seconds. Down 93-91 after Simmons made one of two free throws, the Clippers’ shot at winning disappeared when a lose ball was ruled out of bounds to the Wizards in front of the L.A. bench with 3.1 seconds to play.

Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy went into a screaming frenzy, one that resulted in two technical fouls and automatic ejection. Down three points on their final possession, the Clippers were unable to get a shot off.

It wasn’t an easy win for the Wizards, but a win nonetheless.

“Another great win, another game where we fought tooth and nail until the end,” Jordan said. “We just have a winning way about us, a winning way.”

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