- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO — A number of Washington Wizards players virtually guaranteed there would be no falloff in play following a 12-point victory over Utah on Thursday to begin their six-game road trip.

So much for those promises.

“It’s hard to figure out how we could come out and play the way we did against Utah, and then we came out and played as bad as we did here,” Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said after the team’s poor showing in Saturday’s 116-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. “I mean, we haven’t [been] beaten like that maybe two times this season. For it to be happening now, we’ve got to ask ourselves some questions.”

After a game against the Jazz in which they played so smart and shot the ball so well — their 16 3-pointers were a franchise record — the Wizards (35-33) looked dumbstruck two days later in Los Angeles.

“We played stupid all night long,” Gilbert Arenas said of the loss to the Clippers.

That loss, coupled with Indiana’s victory over Philadelphia yesterday, resulted in the daily switcheroo in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are now tied with Indiana (35-33) for the No. 5 spot in the conference.

The Clippers brought out the worst in the Wizards, revealing many flaws that have pretty much been on the surface or just below all season long.

The Clippers’ big men — Elton Brand (32 points, nine rebounds) and Chris Kaman (21 points, 13 rebounds) — dominated the Wizards inside. Sam Cassell, even at 36, was the best perimeter player on the floor, and the Wizards’ defense was basically nonexistent, allowing a hefty shooting percentage (51.3 percent) to the Clippers, who finished with a season high in points.

To be fair, the Clippers are at least a notch above the Wizards this season, and Washington probably shouldn’t have expected to beat them even though they were without injured starter Cuttino Mobley.

The Wizards probably get a better measure of where they stand at this point in the season tonight when they play at Golden State (29-38 before last night’s game at Sacramento).

The Warriors’ playoff hopes faded once the Kings — the No. 8 team in the West — acquired Ron Artest.

However, in Jason Richardson the Warriors do have one player capable of taking over a game. Richardson entered last night’s games averaging 27.3 points since the All-Star Game and coming off one of his best games of the season. He scored 40 points, including the game-winning buzzer-beater, in a 122-121 win over the Dallas Mavericks, offsetting a 51-point effort by Dirk Nowitzki.

“Teams like that you have to be careful of because they’ve got nothing to play for,” said Arenas, who scored 45 points against Golden State in a 129-124 victory in Washington on Feb. 8.

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