- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 11, 2006

Yesterday afternoon, Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was named to his second consecutive All-Star team. Last night, he showed why.

Arenas finished with 32 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists as the Wizards downed the Cleveland Cavaliers 101-89 at MCI Center.

Going against Cleveland’s versatile LeBron James, Arenas finished just two rebounds shy of a triple-double to go with a career-high three blocks.

James had 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists but shot just 6-for-23 from the field. He was held scoreless during his last 11 minutes of action, and the Wizards outscored the Cavaliers 27-18 in the fourth quarter.

“We’re doing a great job of getting rebounds, diving for loose balls and getting our hands up and deflecting passes and shots, and it’s started to pay off,” guard Gilbert Arenas said. “We held LeBron James down tonight. That’s team defense, not one person. You have to have a great team defensive scheme to stop him.”

Earlier in the day, Arenas was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team by commissioner David Stern, a day after he failed to be selected as a reserve by the conference’s coaches. Arenas replaces the injured Jermaine O’Neal of the Indiana Pacers.

Washington (25-23) won its fourth consecutive game and 12th in 16 tries, holding the Cavaliers (29-20) to just 12 second-half field goals. Cleveland, which was playing without former Wizards guard Larry Hughes, shot just 40.5 percent from the field. In the fourth quarter, the Wizards held the Cavaliers to just 31.3 percent shooting.

“We just seem to be a better defensive team,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan allowed. “I think we just locked in.”

The locked-in Wizards have won nine straight home games against Eastern Conference teams. Their home last loss to a conference opponent was Dec. 30 to the Miami Heat.

Antawn Jamison finished with 28 points on 9-for-14 shooting and five rebounds. Brendan Haywood had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Caron Butler had 18 points and nine rebounds.

“Guys played great tonight,” Butler said. “Antawn and Gilbert, Michael [Ruffin] came in and did a great job on LeBron James. And so did Jared [Jeffries]. It was a collective effort.”

Frustration set in for the Cavaliers early in the fourth quarter. Haywood and Zydrunas Ilgauskas were given double technicals with 9:04 to play after a battle under the basket, then Haywood was called for a foul on Ilgauskas seconds later at the other end of the court. After a timeout, Ilgauskas bowled over Haywood trying to back toward the basket, complained about the foul and was given a second technical and automatic ejection.

Cleveland had six players in double figures but shot poorly. Washington shot 49.3 percent, including 46.2 percent from 3-point range.

The Wizards have one more game left in their season-high five-game homestand. They have a chance to finish 5-0 when they face the inconsistent Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow in a nationally televised game on ABC.

Before last night’s game, Cleveland had won nine of its last 11 and five of its last six road games. Most recently, the Cavaliers came from 15 down at Minnesota to beat the Timberwolves on Wednesday behind 35 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists from James.


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