- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 19, 2005

MILWAUKEE — Gilbert Arenas didn’t want to blame anyone but himself last night.

Arenas sat dejectedly in the Washington Wizards’ locker room after a 99-90 loss to Milwaukee. He scored 27 points on a career-high 35 shots, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out seven assists, but he still felt he hadn’t done enough to prevent the short-handed Wizards from falling to the Bucks in front of 15,108 at the Bradley Center.

“I don’t think I played hard enough in the first half,” said Arenas, who hit only 12 of those shots. “And they shut us down in the last two or three minutes of the game. They came out with a lot of energy, but I didn’t. We wouldn’t have been down 13 if I had played hard from the beginning.”

Arenas was talking about a deficit that actually reached 16 points early in the third quarter.

The Wizards (35-28), who still have the fourth-best record in the East despite the loss, had a chance to win the game late, when they awoke from their slumber.

However, after the Wizards tied the game at 85-85 on Arenas’ 3-pointer with 4:47 left, they failed to hit another field goal the rest of the way.

The Wizards were looking to put three wins together for the first time since they beat Milwaukee, Indiana, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers in early February.

They have won just two of their last 11 road games, but they remain a game ahead of Cleveland after Philadelphia limited the Cavaliers’ LeBron James to 16 points on 3-for-20 shooting in the 76ers’ 93-81 victory.

The Wizards found out before the game they would be without Antawn Jamison for at least the next five games as a result of the worsening tendinitis in his right knee. The Wizards placed Jamison, their third-leading scorer (19.6) and leading rebounder (7.8), on the injured list, where he must remain until the Wizards play at Seattle on March 27.

With Jamison forced to the bench, Laron Profit made his second start of the season and was one of eight healthy players available to the team last night.

“We had enough [players],” coach Eddie Jordan said. “There is no excuse for us. We had four bigs and four smalls. We played some unconventional lineups, but it wasn’t about being undermanned. We didn’t come out with the positive emotion and the positive energy we needed. Eventually we got it going, but it was too late.”

The last time the Wizards had only eight players available for a game was the season-opener at Memphis, a game the Wizards won by coming back from a 19-point deficit to win by 12.

Last night, guard Larry Hughes felt the Wizards still had a chance to win despite the severe shortage of players.

“We have to come out for 48 minutes with no lapses and be ready to play,” said Hughes, who finished with 24 points, five assists and eight rebounds. “You can’t blame things on two or three missed free throws or two or three missed shots. We have no time to waste, no time. We have no leeway. We have to come out from the jump ball and be ready to attack. We let up, and they caught up.”

Hughes and Arenas were a combined 19-for-53 from the field. However, Arenas failed to get to the free throw line once.

Etan Thomas came off the bench for 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Michael Redd led the Bucks (27-37) with 26 points. Former Maryland standout Joe Smith added 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Down 13-12 following a basket by Redd, the Wizards ran off 12 straight points to take their largest lead of the first half at 24-13 on Profit’s 20-foot jumper.

With Hughes leading the way with 10 points, the Wizards held on to a 26-23 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But the second period belonged exclusively to the Bucks, who used their deeper bench to an extreme advantage, scoring 33 points to take a 56-43 halftime lead.

Milwaukee shot 70.6 percent (12-for-17) from the floor in the second quarter. Reserve center Zaza Pachulia scored 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting, enabling the Bucks to turn what had been a 40-38 advantage with just more than five minutes remaining in the half into the 13-point halftime cushion.

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