- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 22, 2005

The Washington Wizards found the perfect remedy for what ailed them last night — namely, the Toronto Raptors.

Embarrassed in lopsided losses to San Antonio and Dallas earlier this week after shooting guard Larry Hughes went down with a broken right thumb, the Wizards resumed their encouraging play this season by thrashing the Raptors 118-109 before 15,424 at MCI Center.

The loss of Hughes and his 21.2-point scoring average for four-to-six weeks places an obvious burden on teammates to close the gap. Against Toronto, six Wizards scored in double figures, with Antawn Jamison and Juan Dixon collecting 26 points apiece.

The Wizards (23-15), who visit Indiana tonight, needed the confidence builder after scoring just 73 points against San Antonio and then allowing Dallas an NBA season-high 137 points. And there was nothing good about those two losses, according to Washington coach Eddie Jordan.

“We want to be good every night,” Jordan said. “We don’t want to learn a lesson by getting a butt-kicking like we got the other night, no matter what the circumstances and no matter what the adversity.”

Jordan’s decision to move Dixon out of the starting lineup in favor of Jarvis Hayes paid off for the Wizards last night. Dixon scored 14 points in the second half, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and shot 11-for-16 from the floor.

“That’s my job,” said the former Maryland star, who reached double figures for the fifth consecutive game. “When Larry comes back, that is the role I’m going to play. I didn’t mind going to the bench and giving the team a spark off the bench. I’d rather start — don’t get me wrong. But it’s best for the team for me to come off the bench, and I’m going to continue to do so.”

Jamison also looked energized, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. Point guard Gilbert Arenas, coming off a career-high 43 points against Dallas, finished with 23 points and eight assists. Arenas was 17-for-20 from the free throw line, offsetting a 3-for-14 night from the floor.

Hayes finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Brendan Haywood contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

“We need guys to step up, and that’s exactly what a lot of them did tonight,” Arenas said. “It was a good win for us. Now we want to build on it.”

The Wizards teed off on the Raptors (17-24) early. With Jamison going for 10 points and eight rebounds in the first quarter, Washington shot 60 percent from the floor and led 35-20 at the end of one.

Leading 47-27 midway through the second, Washington unleashed a 15-6 run to gain its largest lead of the game at 62-33.

Toronto, which had won three straight and earlier this week snapped an 11-game road losing streak, gave the Wizards at least a few uneasy moments in the second half. With Jalen Rose scoring 23 of his game-high 32 points in the half, Toronto cut the Wizards’ lead to 11 when he drilled a 3-pointer with 9:23 left in the game.

But the Raptors got no closer the rest of the way, and their fate was pretty much sealed when Dixon hit a 3-pointer with 6:29 to play, restoring the lead to 102-86 with a little more than six minutes remaining. The Wizards now have won seven straight at home and six of their last seven meetings with Toronto.

Rafer Alston added 20 points and seven assists for Toronto, which also got 18 points and nine rebounds from Morris Peterson. The Wizards ended Chris Bosh’s string of double-doubles at nine games. Bosh finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

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