- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 5, 2005

The Golden State Warriors again have reached the point in their season when the most important people in the organization are the scouts sizing up the talent available for this summer’s draft lottery.

The Washington Wizards, meanwhile, are having a stellar season that could produce their first trip to the playoffs since 1997.

But neither fact was evident last night as the hapless Warriors earned just their seventh road victory. Before 16,541 unhappy eyewitnesses at MCI Center, the Warriors handed the Wizards their most embarrassing home loss of the season 103-90.

This was not one of those setbacks from which the Wizards could walk away and say, “We’ll get the next one.” That’s because nobody felt that way.

“This one we have to look at,” said All-Star forward Antawn Jamison, whose struggles from the floor continued as he scored just nine points on 3-for-12 shooting. “It’s a little bit too late in the season to use that [excuse]. When you miss shots, you can deal with that. Defensively, when it doesn’t go your way, you can understand that. But our energy just wasn’t there tonight, and I don’t understand how that is possible.

“I’ve got to look in the mirror, and so do the rest of the guys. We have to find a way to take it up another notch. We’ve got a month and a couple days left in the season, and every game counts. This is one that is going to hurt because we didn’t play well.”

That fact was hammered home late in the third quarter when the home crowd rained boos on the Wizards for the first time this season — and no wonder.

The Warriors held the lackluster Wizards to just 39 points in the second half and 14 in the third quarter. Golden State led by as many as 19 points in the second half and outscored Washington 45-32 over the final 20 minutes.

Golden State (18-40) got a game-high 34 points from Jason Richardson, who was 12-for-19 from the floor. He was one of five Warriors to score in double figures. Troy Murphy finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Mike Dunleavy had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Larry Hughes, in his second game back after missing 20 with a broken right thumb, led the Wizards (32-25) with 27 points. Backcourt mate Gilbert Arenas added 23 points and four steals but also committed eight turnovers.

The Wizards came unglued in the third quarter right after coach Eddie Jordan pulled Kwame Brown (nine points, nine rebounds) with Washington trailing 60-58 and about seven minutes to play.

Golden State finished the quarter up by 11. When Brown checked back in with a little less than three minutes to play in the game, the Warriors were leading by 15.

“He didn’t play well,” Jordan said. “Nor did anyone else.”

Brown also didn’t join a team huddle at one point late in the game, sitting at the other side of the bench while the team plotted strategy. Like most of his teammates, Brown was gone when reporters were admitted to the locker room.

“We let them control the game, which is unacceptable at this point of the season,” Hughes said. “We definitely can’t feel good about ourselves right now.”

Despite the loss, the Wizards would still hold a homecourt advantage if the playoffs began today. But starting tonight in Charlotte, 10 of the Wizards’ next 12 games are on the road, where they are just 10-16.

“We are not going to put any extra pressure on ourselves,” Hughes said “We are down a couple of guys, but we know we can win on the road. It’s not a matter of us having to win every home game. But we should win the games we’re [supposed] to win.”

Notes — Reserve center Etan Thomas dressed for the game but had to leave at halftime because of a stomach virus and was not scheduled to play tonight. … The Wizards finished the game with just eight players after guard Steve Blake was ejected for throwing the ball with two minutes to play.

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