- The Washington Times - Monday, November 9, 2009

The Washington Wizards were unable to break out of the funk that has plagued them the past week and suffered their fourth straight loss Sunday, falling 102-90 to the visiting Phoenix Suns.

The Wizards put on a better showing than they did in Friday’s blowout loss at Indiana but were unable to overcome 17 turnovers, a second-quarter cold spell, a weak third quarter and poor shooting performance.

All five Phoenix starters scored in double digits with Jason Richardson leading the way with 22 points. Meanwhile, Steve Nash, who had 11 points, single-handedly outdid the Wizards in the assist department, handing out 17 while Washington had 15.

The Wizards received another anemic performance from workhorses Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, who went a combined 14-for-42 from the field for 39 points. Arenas was 7-for-22 for 20 points with six assists, six rebounds and four turnovers. Butler was 7-for-20 with six rebounds and an assist for Washington (2-5).

Four of the Wizards’ five losses this season have come by double digits.

Early on it looked as if the Wizards had cured the ills that plagued them last week.

Washington took a 29-26 lead into the second quarter, but the momentum quickly shifted the Suns’ way as they went on a 7-2 run that was capped by a bizarre play. Andray Blatche blocked a layup by Phoenix forward Jared Dudley, and DeShawn Stevenson got the rebound. He fired the pass ahead to Butler who was streaking up the court. But Butler missed the easy layup. Blatche was trailing him and tried to dunk the rebound, but missed as well.

Phoenix cashed in on the double gaffe when backup point guard Goran Dragic scored on a layup to give his team a 33-31 lead and force a Wizards’ timeout.

The Wizards regrouped and regained the lead thanks to a 14-3 run. During the charge, Butler made good on his blooper, stealing the ball from the Suns’ Louis Amundson and authoritatively dunking the ball. He caught the ball as it fell through the net and paused to look up at the basket — still miffed at how he missed the earlier layup — then nodded and ran back up the court.

Blatche and Stevenson also had dunks during the Wizards’ run, which was capped with a layup in traffic by Foye. But Washington fell flat after that, going just 2-for-9 from the field from that point on and turning the ball over three times. Phoenix, meanwhile, went on a 17-6 run and led 56-51 at halftime after shooting 58 percent from the field in a second quarter that was highlighted by a 6-for-7 showing from 3-point range.

But in the third quarter, the Wizards shot 39-percent from the field and their point differential only increased as the game went on. The Wizards are off on Monday and play at Miami on Tuesday.

Note — Knocking down a jumper with 4:29 left in the first quarter, DeShawn Stevenson hit the 5,000-point mark for his career. The 10th-year guard went on to score two more points — including a vicious two-handed dunk — and has 5,004 points to his name.

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