- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS — Antawn Jamison conjured up a little Magic on his game-winning shot.

Jamison’s driving hoop with 0.4 seconds remaining lifted the Washington Wizards to a 95-93 victory over the Indiana Pacers last night.

“He put up a Magic Johnson hook,” Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said.

After Jermaine O’Neal gave Indiana a 93-91 lead with 39.7 seconds left, Arenas hit a jumper and the Wizards forced a shot clock violation to get the ball back with 4.5 seconds to play.

Jamison, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, took the ball at the top of the key, drove past two Indiana defenders and lofted a soft hook shot over O’Neal to give the Wizards their second straight win and offset a huge night from O’Neal.

O’Neal scored 12 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to shake the Pacers from their struggles in the second game of back-to-backs. The Pacers have lost four in a row on the second night when playing on consecutive dates.

“I don’t know what to tell you guys,” a frustrated O’Neal said. “The back end of the back-to-backs, I just don’t know.”

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle is starting to think the worst of his team.

“I think the truth is we’re just not a very good basketball team right now,” Carlisle said. “We’ve showed signs, but when it comes down to it, the consistency of our level of toughness, it fluctuates too much.”

The Wizards (24-15) were also playing the second game of a back-to-back, but Arenas led the way with 33 points and six assists, helping Washington to its second win in two nights without the injured Larry Hughes.

Arenas picked up the slack for his backcourt mate and had an answer for every one of O’Neal’s big shots down the stretch.

“When you have a Gilbert Arenas, you’re never out of a game,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.

O’Neal gave the Pacers the lead twice in the final three minutes, and Arenas came back with jumpers both times, the last one coming with 28.5 seconds left to tie the game at 93.

“We play with our backs to the wall,” Arenas said. “That’s how we play. When we have a lead, it’s tough. When we play from behind, we’re a much better team.”

Reggie Miller’s desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer was blocked by Brendan Haywood, giving the Wizards their ninth win in the last 11 games. Hughes has missed the last four games with a broken right thumb. He’ll be out four-to-six weeks.

Haywood had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks despite suffering bruised ribs in the third quarter. Anthony Peeler added a season-high 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting for the Wizards.

“They flew in today and found a way to win the game,” Carlisle said. “It’s a feather in their cap, but for us it’s disappointing.”

It was the same old story for the Pacers (20-19), who were coming off an impressive win at Miami on Friday night. But they fell to 4-9 in the second game of back-to-backs.

“The mark of a good team is being able to not only get one, but finish off both games,” Pacers guard Anthony Johnson said. “Unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that. We just have to find a way. Until we find a way, we’re just going to stay at the bottom of the pack.”

They were right in it against the Wizards, who didn’t arrive in Indianapolis until 1p.m. yesterday after their flight was delayed because of bad weather in the Washington area.

Behind O’Neal, Indiana ripped off a 12-5 run to turn a five-point deficit into an 89-87 lead with less than three minutes to play.

But Arenas and Haywood were too much down the stretch.

“They made the plays and we just couldn’t stop them when we had to,” Carlisle said.

It was the seventh time this season that Arenas has topped 30 points, and it came just two games after he scored a career-high 43 in a loss to Dallas.

After scoring 28 or more points in three straight games, Jamaal Tinsley had a rough night with 16 points on 6-for-17 shooting while battling foul trouble most of the night.

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