- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. — The day before the Washington Wizards headed to Florida for games in Orlando and Miami, coach Eddie Jordan announced he would institute a 1 a.m. curfew because he wanted the players to consider the two-game swing a business trip.

The first game would serve as a potential first-round playoff preview; Orlando ranks third in the Eastern Conference, and Washington entered the game ranked sixth. But the Wizards didn’t need playoff scenarios for extra motivation.

“We want to play well because of tonight’s game, not because of what could happen in another four weeks or whatever,” Jordan said. “We want to come here and perform well, compete hard, stay organized and just play well as a group.”

And despite a slow start, the Wizards remained competitive to edge the Magic 87-86 last night at Amway Arena.

After leading for much of the fourth quarter, the Wizards (34-33) trailed 81-80 with 3:05 left. But a goaltending call on Dwight Howard that also sent Antawn Jamison to the line for a foul shot gave the Wizards an 83-81 lead with 2:40 left. Then Washington’s Caron Butler hit a pull-up jumper with 1:51 left. Orlando’s Jameer Nelson made two free throws 30 seconds later, cutting the lead to 85-84.

Hedo Turkoglu hit the second of two foul shots to tie the score 85-85, but Butler knocked down a fadeaway jump shot over Turkoglu for a two-point Wizards lead that forced the Magic to call a timeout with 36 seconds left.

Turkoglu, who scored a career-high 39 points thanks in part to 7-for-9 shooting from 3-point range, got to the line again but again made only the second attempt to pull the Magic within 87-86.

Orlando (45-25) got the ball in to Turkoglu with 8.7 seconds left. But Butler tapped the ball out of bounds, and the Magic called another timeout with 4.2 seconds remaining.

Turkoglu got the inbounds pass while Butler covered him. Center Brendan Haywood came out to help in defend the perimeter, but Turkoglu got by him and drove to the hole.

He was off balance, however, when he went up for the potential game-winning layup, and the ball bounced off the backboard as time ran out.

“I saw that [Butler] tried to press [Turkoglu] and take away the 3,” said Haywood, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. “Once he got beat, I tried to step up. Turkoglu is so long and somehow stepped away from me, but [he] had a bad angle at the basket. His shot kind of ricocheted off the backboard. DeShawn [Stevenson] had a great box out on [Howard] to not allow him to get the tip-in.”

Haywood held Howard to three points — well below his season average of 21.7.

“I had a lot of motivation,” Haywood said. “I think we had a lot of motivation as a team. We let them really get off in D.C. and have a good time, especially [Howard]. He had a phenomenal game in D.C. [20 points, 11 rebounds]. He was dunking, posing, staring at people. We didn’t like that, so we didn’t want that to happen again.”

Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 31 points and 11 rebounds, and Stevenson added 14 points. Butler finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

The Wizards trailed for all but 15 seconds of the first half and shot 35.7 percent from the field.

“We just talked about continuing to defend,” Jordan said of his halftime speech. “We thought our shot selection in the first half was very questionable, and we said if we can just get better shots, be a little bit more selective in our shots, stay organized and keep defending.”

Washington opened the third quarter with a seven-point swing that tied the game at 43-43. Then with 7:33 left in the quarter, Jamison’s hook shot put the Wizards up 51-50 for their second lead of the game.

The advantage reached 57-52 before Turkoglu hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give his team a 60-59 lead with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

The Wizards didn’t fold, however, and took a 67-65 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Wizards report

Last night at Amway Arena in Orlando Fla.


In his latest update on his comeback from a Nov. 21 knee surgery, Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said he expects to return “way before the playoffs” and “hopefully within this week, maybe that West Coast road trip.”

Arenas, who had an MRI on his surgically repaired left knee and got a clean bill of health, has ruled himself out of tomorrow’s game at Miami, so the earliest he could return would be Sunday’s home game against the Detroit Pistons. The Wizards then begin a five-game, seven-day road trip Tuesday night in Seattle.


“Nothing new on Gil. He’s status quo. Out there in the twilight zone.”

” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan’s injury update for Arenas


239 Dunks this season by Orlando’s Dwight Howard, who leads the NBA. The second-highest total is 160 by Phoenix’s Amare Stoudemire.

Mike Jones

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