Wizards Fly Past Hawks
Washington 103, Atlanta 72
WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas suddenly has lost his scoring touch, but it hardly hurt the new-look Washington Wizards.
On a night when coach Eddie Jordan benched perennial starters Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood and Arenas managed just nine points -- 20 fewer than his average -- the Wizards nevertheless routed the Atlanta Hawks, 103-72.
"We came out (up) 19-9, playing good defense, getting rebounds," Arenas said. "We wanted to have an aggressive attitude from the jump."
Arenas said he had to be aggressive given the team's revamped lineup, which saw Calvin Booth start at center in place of Haywood and Michael Ruffin replace Jamison -- an All-Star last season - at power forward.
"With that lineup, I'm supposed to be scoring," Arenas said. "(But) I didn't try to force anything. I really didn't have to go out there and score -- everybody was hitting shots, getting easy baskets and playing team defense."
Jared Jeffries scored a career-high 15 points and rookie reserve Donell Taylor added a season-best 15 for Washington, which has won six in a row in the series.
"The rook did (well)," Arenas said of Taylor, a first-year player out of Alabama-Birmingham. "He came out and was confident. His shot was good; he got to the lane and did what he does in practice. (Jordan) let him play through mistakes early (in the season) and his confidence is high now."
The Wizards dominated the glass, outrebounding the Hawks by a whopping 52-31 and holding a 27-4 advantage in second-chance points. They allowed their fewest points all season and limited the Hawks to 39 percent (26-of-66).
"They beat us in every way you can beat a team," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "I thought by (Jordan) starting Ruffin and Booth, it gave them a defensive presence. Ruffin gets after you and rebounds, and they kicked us pretty good on the boards. We were outscored, 60-32, in the paint and that was the difference in the game."
"They manhandled us on the boards tonight," Atlanta rookie forward Marvin Williams added. "They were more physical than we were and seemed like they wanted it more."
Royal Ivey (11 points) and Al Harrington (10) were the only players in double figures for Atlanta, which was held to its lowest total of the season.
The margin could have been even greater, but Washington made only 15-of-31 free throws.
Despite the victory, Haywood was not happy with his demotion to the bench.
"I don't know why I'm not starting," Haywood said. "I'm not going to sit here and lie to you, I'm not really happy about it. But if (Jordan) feels it helps the team, so be it."
However, Haywood complained of a lack of communication with his coach.
"I guess he didn't feel he needed to call me," Haywood said. "I talked to Antawn; he said he knew sometime (Tuesday). But I guess I wasn't important enough on this team for him to call me and let me know. ... I'm not going to sit here and lie to you all and give you a speech that I'm really happy about it this.
"I'm disappointed in the way the team has played so far this year. I'm disappointed in myself and I'm disappointed in the way coach handled this situation."
Haywood had 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. Until Wednesday, Haywood and Jamison had been the only two Wizards to start every game this season.
"Antawn went down (in practice Tuesday) and he stayed down on the floor for some time, so we put Michael in," Jordan said. "At the time, Calvin was paired with Gilbert, Jared and Caron (Butler). They went up and down the floor a few times, and I really, really liked it. It really got me going.
"I thought Antawn might be out anyway, and I had to make a decision. I talked to Antawn later on in the afternoon at length about it. He was a true professional about it. He said, 'Coach, if you want to try it, I want to do anything to get us going.'"
Jamison was also productive off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
"I really don't care about it (the lineup change)," said Jamison, who won the 2004 Sixth Man Award with Dallas. "He's the coach, he makes all the decisions. I'm the leader, the captain and I have to do whatever is best for the team, and I'm going to do that.
"Whatever it take for us to win, I'm going to do it, so whether I like it or not, you just deal with it. It's to the point where we have to start winning basketball games."