Wizards End Slide Against Nuggets
Washington 116, Denver 110
DENVER, Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- For much of the season, the Washington Wizards have maintained that they are better than what they have shown. The Denver Nuggets allowed them to prove it.
Gilbert Arenas had 36 points and 11 assists and Antawn Jamison had a pair of key baskets in a late surge as the Wizards snapped a three-game slide with a 116-110 victory over the defenseless Nuggets, who have dropped a season-high four in a row.
Part of the problem has been Jamison, a first-time All-Star last season and a consistent scorer throughout his career. His average of 17.8 points is nearly two points lower than last season and he is shooting just 40 percent from the field.
"I take a lot of the responsibility for us not playing well during that stretch," Jamison said. "It's been a long one, pretty much the toughest offensive stretch of my career. I can deal with not playing well, but I can't go without winning basketball games."
Having lost the first three games of a five-game road trip, the Wizards appeared on the verge of another setback, blowing a 10-point third-quarter lead and falling behind, 88-86 with 9:12 to play.
However, Arenas responded with a jumper, steal and layup, giving Washington the lead for good. The margin was 95-94 with just over five minutes to play when Arenas sank another jumper and Jamison made a tough runner in the lane with 4:28 to go.
After a basket by Denver's Marcus Camby, Brendan Haywood made a free throw and Jamison hit a jumper as he was fouled by Carmelo Anthony. His free throw made it 103-96 with 3:48 left, and Arenas added two foul shots to push the lead to nine points with less than three minutes to play.
"Nothing changed with my technique tonight, it just seemed like the lid was finally taken off the hoop," said Jamison, who made 7-of-15 shots. "I had the confidence that when it was leaving my hand it was going in. It feels good for the slump to be behind me and hopefully there are some more good days to come."
Haywood scored 14 points and Antonio Daniels added 12 off the bench for Washington, which avenged a home loss to Denver on November 22 and ended a five-game losing streak in the series.
"We gutted it out tonight and never gave up," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We had positive energy and it never wavered. We stayed organized offensively and that helped us late in the game. Our starters all had double figures, which showed we shared the basketball tonight."
Anthony scored 29 points and Camby added 23 and 11 boards for Denver, which gave up at least 110 points for the third straight game and sixth time this season. Its effort on defense was poor despite the return of Camby, who had missed the last three games with a finger injury.
"They made their shots and we didn't cover anyone tonight," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I'm tired of excuses. I am not proud of the effort we gave tonight on both sides of the court. We needed to play a complete game and it just didn't happen tonight."
The Nuggets, who missed 17 free throws and committed 17 turnovers, rallied behind reserve Earl Watson, who scored nine of his 17 points in an 11-2 surge at the outset of the final period.
But Denver committed its fifth team foul of the quarter with 6:40 left and could not contain Washington without fouling. The Wizards shot 13 free throws thereafter.
"Give the Wizards credit," Camby said. "We take pride in being a home court team, but we've been losing at home lately. It's frustrating when you don't come out with any intensity and effort."