- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 7, 2007

This time around, the Wizards made sure there would be no controversy at the end.

Washington handled its business from the start, beating the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors 129-109 at Verizon Center in front of 15,529 last night.

On Sunday, a case could have been made that the officials played as much of a role in Washington’s controversial 107-106 victory over Golden State as the Wizards themselves. That was not the case last night as Washington won by its largest margin since a 21-point victory at Orlando on Jan. 19.

“It was good to be dominant, especially against a team that had handed it to us twice up there,” Antawn Jamison said. “Good to just win the game and not have to worry about any phantom calls or calls that change the outcome.”

The win is the third straight for the Wizards (34-25), who are undefeated since welcoming Jamison (12 games) and Caron Butler (three games) back to the lineup after they were out with knee and back problems, respectively.

Jamison and Gilbert Arenas each scored 25 points to lead Washington.

It was a victory that left Wizards coach Eddie Jordan feeling better and more relaxed at the end of a game than he has in at least month, maybe more.

“From beginning to end we had a real good air about us, a good personality about the game,” Jordan said. “The chemistry, the togetherness, the comfort level. All game we didn’t get too high or too low, and we did a lot of good things.”

The Wizards scored 40 points in a quarter — the second — for the first time since posting 41 in the fourth quarter on Jan. 7, also in a game against Toronto. Furthermore, they shot the ball well both overall (45-for-88) and from 3-point range (10-or-23). Washington also registered 29 assists and outrebounded Toronto 49-27.

“A complete 48 minutes,” Jordan said.

So complete was the victory that Arenas was the only starter to appear in the game in the fourth quarter, and he lasted just 3:28 before Jordan took him out.

Perhaps more than anything, last night’s victory was big in that it marked a return to the form the Wizards had shown when they were plowing through the league and winning 23 of 31 games from Nov. 28 through Jan. 30.

Antonio Daniels had a strong game off the bench for the Wizards, finishing with 18 points, the most he has scored since tallying 20 in a 127-105 loss to Phoenix on Jan. 23. He ended a string of 13 straight games without scoring in double figures.

Daniels’ 15 points in the second quarter played a crucial role in the team’s run that essentially put the game away. He also assisted on three baskets — two of them 3-pointers — and as a result he scored or assisted on 23 points in the quarter.

“It feels good,” Daniels said of his contribution. “I felt for a couple of weeks now that my rhythm was coming back. But as long as we’re winning games that’s my only concern. This league is about wins and losses, and when we play together we win, that’s all I really care about.”

As Daniels’ confidence grew, the game slipped away from the Raptors. Toronto (32-29) trailed by 14 at halftime and never mounted a threat after that. The Wizards led by as many as 27 points in the fourth quarter.

Chris Bosh led the Raptors, losers of four of their last five, with 25 points. However, he grabbed just one rebound. Former Maryland and Wizards guard Juan Dixon and T.J. Ford both checked in with 14 points apiece.


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