Atkins Gives Unbeaten Wizards Late Lift
Washington 87, Orlando 79
WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (Ticker) -- With Antonio Daniels in the locker room with a sprained ankle, Chucky Atkins gave the Washington Wizards a late lift.
Atkins scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter and teamed with Gilbert Arenas to lift the Wizards to an 87-79 victory over the winless Orlando Magic.
When the Wizards lost star guard Larry Hughes to free agency in the offseason, they went about replacing him by signing Daniels as a free agent and trading for Atkins. Daniels was installed as the starter, with Atkins coming off the bench.
With 3:39 left in the third quarter, Daniels rose for a jumper and landed on the foot of Orlando's Steve Francis, twisting his left ankle. He had to be helped to the locker room and did not return but X-rays were negative.
Atkins came on and provided a spark. The Orlando native followed a jumper by Arenas by drilling a 3-pointer for a 72-66 lead with 7:47 remaining.
"Chucky hit a three and it got the crowd back in the game," Arenas said. "With him in there, we don't lose anything."
"We just have to come off the bench and be aggressive," said Atkins, who played a season-high 24 minutes. "We're probably one of the deeper teams, if not the deepest team, in the NBA. We feel good about anytime somebody goes down, somebody is going to step up and fill the void. That's what our team is about. We've got a lot of people here who can get it done."
Getting it done is nothing new to Atkins, who started 250 of 453 games during his first seven seasons, including a career-high 82 starts last season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
"Chucky's been a starter for plenty of teams, so he knows how to play the game," Arenas said.
A 3-pointer by Francis cut the deficit to 81-79 with 2:03 to play. Atkins responded with a drive down the lane that was goaltended, doubling the lead. He added a free throw that made it 84-79 with 31 seconds to go.
"I was on a team last year that lost 19 of our last 20, so I'm just happy to be on a winning team and with a winning organization," Atkins said. "I'm happy that (Wizards GM) Ernie Grunfeld gave me an opportunity to come here to Washington and be a part of something that's great. We have a great team, we're deep, and I think you're going to see a lot of excitement out of our team and I think the city of Washington is going to be proud of us."
The Magic went scoreless after Francis' basket as Jamison grabbed four rebounds in the final 75 seconds.
"It's a luxury to be as deep as we are and also to have the type of experience that we have out there in game situations," Jamison said. "Any given time it can be anybody. ... We all know Chucky's a veteran and he can come in and spell guys. He did a phenomenal job tonight."
Dwight Howard had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Francis added 16 and nine for the Magic (0-3), who have yet to break 85 points.
"I haven't been double-teamed like that since college," said Francis, a Takoma Park native who starred for the University of Maryland. "They always had a guy in front of me and a guy who was like a strong safety. It was tough, man. They did some things to discourage our offense."
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan applauded his defense, which has allowed no more than 38 percent shooting in three games.
"A very good 3-0 start for us and what has been consistent for us has been our defense," he said. "It is something we have emphasized all summer, all preseason and all camp. Though we haven't shot well and we've been outrebounded - especially at the offensive glass - our defense has just been gutting it out and we have to attribute that to everybody, especially our bench."