- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2006

Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan is a hard man to satisfy, which is a good thing considering the day-to-day volatility of the Eastern Conference.

Jordan was happy but not thrilled with the Wizards’ 117-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings in front of 19,612 at Verizon Center, which was MCI Center until yesterday’s formal name change.

“We played well enough to win but certainly I think we can play with a lot more energy and enthusiasm,” said Jordan, who won his 100th game with the Wizards. “It was just one of those workhorse types of wins.”

Clearly happy to end a three-game skid that saw his team drop two crucial conference games to Indiana and Philadelphia, Jordan knows each of the Wizards’ final 24 games is going to have huge ramifications with regard to his team’s postseason hopes.

Jordan said he isn’t watching the standings, where the Wizards (30-28) are the sixth seed today. But Jordan surely has noticed that after this stretch — six of the next eight games are at home — Washington finishes the season with 12 of 16 games on the road.

“We know that,” Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said. “That’s why we have to soak up all these home games while we can and then we just have to have a dog fight out on the road.”

That helps explain why Jordan was even-keeled following a game in which the Wizards never trailed. Jared Jeffries’ follow dunk put them ahead for good, 11-9 with 7:39 left in the first quarter, and the Wizards built a 17-point lead in the third quarter.

Antawn Jamison scored 31 points and added eight rebounds. Caron Butler, who twisted an ankle Friday and had a case of the stomach flu earlier in the week, finished with 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Arenas had 23 points and six assists and Antonio Daniels added 12 points — all on perfect free-throw shooting. Promising rookie Donnell Taylor had 10 points and six assists.

On the downside, Jeffries, who strained his left calf against Indiana on Wednesday, re-injured it yesterday and will miss tomorrow’s game against Boston.

“It really seems like he’s going to miss a couple of games. I really think he’s going miss up to Detroit and maybe up to Charlotte [March 14],” Jordan said. “We want him to be healthy before we see him again.”

Butler, meanwhile, looked healthy while playing all 48 minutes. The worst injury he suffered yesterday was a split lip from a Brad Miller elbow.

“I can’t win,” said Butler, who said the referee later apologized to him for not calling a foul on the play. “Luckily, we got the win tonight, so it feels much better.”

Sacramento’s Ron Artest finished with a team-high 30 points in his Verizon Center debut with his new team. He was one of five Kings players to score in double figures.

Sacramento (28-31) coach Rick Adelman has his team within striking distance of the eighth seed in the West, which is presently held by the Los Angles Lakers. But while Jordan was not overly moved by the Wizards’ performance, Adelman sounded as if his team arrived at Verizon Center with little chance of leaving with a win.

“When you are on the road and you are playing a team that has played well at home — and they need to win — it’s tough,” he said. “We just didn’t give ourselves a chance to win.”

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