Wizards Beat Kings Without Arenas
Washington 97, Sacramento 84
SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 28 (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas was sick and Caron Butler had to be stitched up, but the Washington Wizards still offered up a healthy performance.
Butler, Antonio Daniels and seldom-used Billy Thomas all stepped up in the absence of Arenas as the Wizards continued an impressive road trip with a 97-84 victory over the suddenly struggling Sacramento Kings.
"Our main thing was to go .500 or better (on the road trip)," Butler said. "Now that we've got three wins, why stop now? Let's make up for some of the losses earlier in the season."
"I've got to give our guys a lot of credit," said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, who was an assistant with the Kings the last time Washington won here on December 19, 1996. "They really fought their tails off. We dug down defensively, we made big shots at the end. Antawn (Jamison) and Billy Thomas were great coming off the bench for us. We didn't have a big rotation, but the guys that played played with their hearts and souls."
Butler, who left late in the third quarter to receive six stitches on the top of his head following a flagrant foul by Kings forward Kenny Thomas, scored 23 points to pace the Wizards. The fourth-year forward returned midway through the fourth quarter.
Daniels started at point guard in place of Arenas and efficiently ran the team, collecting 17 points and seven assists in 44 minutes.
"We talked about staying loose," Daniels said. "We were missing 30 points and nearly six assists. That's a big part of who we are and what we do. But we had to pull together and that's exactly what we did. You know when (Sacramento) heard Gilbert wasn't playing, they were extremely pleased."
Just over a month removed from signing a 10-day contract and playing in just his fifth game, Billy Thomas scored 12 of his career-high 14 points in the second half, when the Wizards took control.
"I pride myself in being professional and being ready when the opportunity presents itself," Billy Thomas said. "(I'm) just being hungry to stay in the league, being prepared and thankful for the opportunity the coaching staff gave me and the confidence the players have in me."
"You always pull for the underdog, and Billy works extremely hard," Daniels said. "He comes in early and gets shots, stays after and gets shots. When game time comes around, it pays off."
Antawn Jamison added 17 points and Etan Thomas 12 for Washington (37-33), which moved a season-high four games over .500 and 1 1/2 games in front of sixth-place Indiana in the Eastern Conference.
Despite not having their best player, the Wizards took the lead for good midway through the first quarter.
"Obviously it was a real disappointing loss," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said. "We did very poorly offensively in the second quarter and just couldn't play well as a team. They got ahead of us and we couldn't get the stops to get into the game."
Holding a 52-51 halftime lead, the Wizards gradually extended the margin and opened a 71-61 advantage at the 2:59 mark of the third quarter on Billy Thomas' 3-pointer.
Just 12 seconds earlier, Kenny Thomas drew an ejection for his hard foul on Butler, who briefly went to the locker room before returning to shoot his three free throws with a bandage on his head. After the foul shots, he went back to the locker room for more treatment.
"I think that was real big," Butler said. "I was bleeding and they wiped me up real quick and stopped the bleeding for about eight seconds and I was able to get my free throws. I went back (for stitches) and Billy just came in and played great basketball. He picked it up where I left off."
The Wizards held a 76-65 lead after three quarters and were in front by at least seven points the entire fourth period.
Mike Bibby scored 20 points and Brad Miller and rookie Francisco Garcia added 14 each for Sacramento (35-36), which lost for the fifth time in seven games and had its lead over Utah reduced to 1 1/2 games for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Kings have lost consecutive games at home following a 14-game winning streak which was their longest run since a 20-game run from December 4, 2001 to February 14, 2002.
It was another frustrating night for Kings small forward Ron Artest, who made just 4-of-18 shots and scored 12 points. He is 10-of-50 from the floor over his last three games.
"I'm going to definitely take it upon myself to make sure we don't get in situations like we have in these last four or five games," Artest said. "I take it upon myself to make sure we win, and I'm sure people will follow. We did it once before, we'll do it again."
Bonzi Wells added 10 points for the Kings, who shot 43 percent (33-of-76) and made just 14-of-23 free throws. Sacramento has scored more than 90 points just once in its last four games.