Jamison Paces Wizards Over Kings
Washington 117, Sacramento 107
WASHINGTON, March 5 (Ticker) -- Antawn Jamison played like he deserved a chance to compete for a spot on Team USA. So did Ron Artest.
Jamison scored 20 of his 31 points in the first half to lead the Washington Wizards to a 117-107 victory over the Sacramento Kings, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
One of the league's top scoring forwards, Jamison made 9-of-13 shots in the first half, when the Wizards built a 58-46 lead. He added 10 points in the third quarter before just managing a free throw in the final period.
"It's great to be on that list of players, but I just wanted to get us a win today," Jamison said. "We came out with a lot of energy and even played well in the beginning of the third quarter, which is usually our Achilles heel."
Artest, Sacramento's forward and one of the league's top defensive players, nearly matched Jamison with 30 points on 13-of-19 shooting.
However, after his suspension last season for running into the stands and fighting with fans, he had no chance of being selected to the initial list of 23 players who will battle for berths for August's FIBA World Championships in Japan and the 2008 Olympics.
"I just want to play well for the Kings and we have been playing well as a team," Artest said. "But the defensive intensity wasn't there today. Early on, we couldn't get it going, so I stepped up my play today. My jumper is better than it was a couple of years ago, so that helps me get it going."
Jamison and fellow All-Star Gilbert Arenas officially received their invitations Sunday from USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo. Center Brad Miller was selected from the Kings, but guard Mike Bibby was denied.
Arenas played his usual steady game, collecting 23 points and six assists. Miller scored 18 points before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Bibby added 16 points but made just 5-of-16 shots.
Washington held its biggest lead, 70-53, after a layup by Arenas with 8:52 left in the third quarter.
But Artest hit a 3-pointer and a jumper to ignite a 22-11 run for the Kings over the next 6:48. Kenny Thomas capped the spurt with a layup, pulling Sacramento within 81-75 with 2:04 left.
But Jamison hit his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 1:52 remaining in the quarter. After Artest made a runner in the lane, Arenas ended the period with a jumper, giving the Wizards an 86-77 advantage. Arenas scored nine points in the quarter.
The Kings pulled within 92-88 on a layup by Thomas with 8:27 left. But Caron Butler hit a jumper in the lane and Arenas converted a three-point play to make it 97-88 with 7:34 remaining.
Sacramento got no closer than six points thereafter.
"What we wanted to do was get that losing streak snapped," Arenas said. "We've got a mission and that is to make the playoffs again. We just have to watch our P's and Q's and keep playing."
Butler played all 48 minutes for the Wizards and finished with 22 points, six rebounds and three steals.
"Caron was one of the few guys who got into it defensively, getting into some passing lanes, getting deflections and steals, and playing physically," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.
The longest tenured coach in the Eastern Conference, Jordan recorded his 100th win with the Wizards. He was the Kings' coach for the final 15 games of the 1996-97 season and throughout the 1997-98 campaign before being replaced by Rick Adelman, who is still Sacramento's coach.
"He had a bad situation when he was in Sacramento," Adelman said. "He didn't have a very good team. Since he's been here, he's had his team playing well. They play together and they play hard. He knows what he's doing."
Wizards forward Jared Jeffries left the game in the second quarter with a sprained left calf and did not return.