- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 13, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY — Out of the league at the beginning of the season, Devin Brown was looking forward to facing a premier point guard like Gilbert Arenas.

When he got his chance, Brown turned in his best performance since the New Orleans Hornets gave him a second chance in the NBA.

Brown had a season-high 19 points and career-best nine assists to back a 22-point performance from Desmond Mason as the Hornets held off Arenas and the Washington Wizards 104-97 last night.

“I’m a makeshift point guard out there, and you’re going against a guy like Gilbert that’s been on a tear. You look at it as a challenge, especially coming off a 2-month layoff,” said Brown, who was cut by Golden State before the season.

“That’s how you get respect and that’s how you earn people’s trust out there.”

Going up against Brown, who signed as a free agent last month, Arenas scored 23 points on a rough shooting night, and he made as many mistakes down the stretch as he did shots.

Arenas pulled the Wizards to 91-90 with a 3-pointer, but Mason answered at the other end with a three-point play to restore the lead.

Arenas missed a 3-pointer at the other end, and then was in disbelief after getting called for a charging foul on Washington’s next possession. DeShawn Stevenson was whistled for an offensive foul the next time down, and the Hornets stretched the lead to 96-90 when Jannero Pargo stole Arenas’ crosscourt pass to Jarvis Hayes and raced down the court for a layup with 1:10 to play.

Arenas, the NBA’s second-leading scorer, got a steal near midcourt and hit two free throws with 46 seconds left to get Washington within four, and the deficit was 100-97 after Stevenson’s two foul shots with 19.6 seconds left. But that’s as close as the Wizards got.

Rasual Butler sealed the win with two free throws with 16.4 seconds to play, and Arenas’ 3-pointer was off-target at the other end.

“It was just one of those nights,” said Arenas, who made only five of 19 shots. “That happens. It’s been a rare one for me lately.”

Arenas missed 12 of his first 15 shots and had his worst shooting percentage (26.3 percent) since he went 1-for-12 in a 95-80 loss to Memphis on Nov. 24. He’s 17-for-54 (31.4 percent) over his last three games.

“You’ve got to contest [his shot]. As soon as he crosses halfcourt, he’s looking to shoot that thing, and he’s a great shooter and that’s what he works on,” Brown said. “You can’t limit his touches because he’s a point guard, but you want to make him work for everything.”

The Hornets, missing injured starters Chris Paul (ankle), Peja Stojakovic (back) and David West (elbow), won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 21. They scored more than 100 points for the first time since a 105-89 win over the Lakers on Dec. 6.

“We’re gaining confidence right now. Before we were playing not to lose. Right now, we’re playing to win,” Pargo said. “We feel like we can win with the team we’ve got here right now, and we’re playing like it.”

Stevenson scored a season-high 22 points, Caron Butler added 18 and Antawn Jamison had 14 for Washington.

Rasual Butler added 18 points, Pargo scored 17 points off the bench, Marc Jackson had 11 and Tyson Chandler got his third double-double in the past four games with 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets.

New Orleans took a 70-61 lead in the third quarter with a 13-2 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Butler and another by Brown.

But Washington came back, tying the score 80-80 on Hayes’ 3 while Arenas rested on the bench early in the fourth quarter. The score was tied twice more, including at 85 on Arenas’ free throw with 6:06 left.

The Wizards hit 12 of their first 17 shots to open a 28-18 lead, but then went 2-for-11 to allow New Orleans to charge back. Mason’s layup off an alley-oop pass from Brown ended a 17-2 run that gave the Hornets a 43-36 lead with 4:09 left before halftime.

Stevenson’s 3 with 0.8 seconds to go in the first half tied the score 51-51.

Notes — Because of an ice storm, a state of emergency was declared, schools and non-essential government offices were closed and the Red Hot Chili Peppers canceled an Oklahoma City concert. However, the game went on. “This is no biggie,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said. “I’m used to 3 years in Jersey, where this is the norm weather-wise, especially at this time.” …

Paid attendance was 16,899, but officials estimated 6,500 fans were at the game. There were enough empty seats that fans in the upper deck were asked to move down to the lower level after the first quarter. …

Official Ron Olesiak missed the second half with a calf injury. …

Stevenson was 7-for-7 in the first half.

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