- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It would make for a great three-on-three game.

On one side are Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison of the Washington Wizards. On the other side are the New Jersey Nets’ Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter, who have a wealth of playoff and Olympic experience. Kidd and Carter won Olympic gold in 2000, and Jefferson was on Larry Brown’s disappointing 2004 bronze medal team.

Arenas, Butler and Jamison form the highest-scoring (66.3) trio in the league, and the Wizards (34-31) are the third-highest scoring team (101.5) in the NBA. Meanwhile, Carter (24.1 points), Kidd (14.1 points, 8.5 assists) and Jefferson (19.5 points) make up as desirable a trio as any in the league.

They are the marquee players in tonight’s game between the Wizards and the Atlantic Division-leading Nets at Verizon Center. However, the players that revolve around each team’s stars could make the difference.

“They are a good team,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of the Nets. “I’ll be interested to see how it’s going to work out — our big three against their big three.

“They play the same positions. But it’s going to come down to the supporting casts,” continued Jordan, an assistant in New Jersey from 1999 to 2003. “Let’s see if they step up or if we step up as far as the role players. But it is going to be exciting to see how [our] three guys go up against their three guys.”

Neither team is particularly deep, but the Nets have an emerging player in 7-foot center Nenad Krstic. Two days after Dallas manhandled the Wizards at Verizon, New Jersey, winners of five straight, got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Kristic to snap an 11-game losing streak to the Mavericks.

Meanwhile, Antonio Daniels in recent games has looked worth every penny of the $30 million the Wizards awarded him last summer. He scored a season-high 21 points in a win over Chicago on Sunday, and during March he’s averaging 14.3 points on 51.3 percent shooting and 4.1 assists.

The game probably is more important for the Wizards because it is the getaway game before a 10-day, six-game Western Conference swing. Washington plays 12 of its final 16 games on the road, where it is 10-19 this season. The Wizards have the fewest road wins among the teams that currently hold the eight playoff seeds in the East.

New Jersey (37-28) is in much better position. Philadelphia (31-35) has virtually no chance of catching the Nets in the Atlantic Division. The Nets appear destined for the third seed and homecourt advantage in the first round.

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