Washington 120, Denver 91

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (AP) -- Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards love the sort of game they played Wednesday night against Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.

End-to-end. Fast breaks. Score and score and score some more.

Anthony prevailed 37-34 over Arenas in the individual matchup, but the rest of the Wizards gave their star a lot more help, and Washington beat Denver 120-91 for its fourth victory in five games.

"We beat them at their own game tonight. We attacked,'' said Arenas, one of six Wizards in double figures. "They want to hurry up and get back on offense so bad.''

And nothing gets the Wizards going like a chance to run the floor against another high-scoring team.

Washington's Caron Butler had a season-high 26 points, plus nine rebounds and seven assists, while Antawn Jamison added 19 points and Brendan Haywood contributed 12 points and 13 rebounds in his first start of the season.

"Yeah, we got embarrassed tonight. I can say that: We got embarrassed,'' said Anthony, No. 2 in the NBA in scoring, four spots ahead of Arenas. "The Wizards were able to do whatever they wanted to out there. They had every shot that they wanted: jump shots, layups. There wasn't really nothing that we could do tonight.''

Washington improved to 8-3 at home; it's 2-8 on the road. The Wizards might have benefited from having had three days off since their previous game, while the Nuggets were playing for a second consecutive night on the road.

``We were itching to play, man,'' Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "We knew we had to attack them in the open floor, and that's what we did.''

The Nuggets overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Atlanta on Tuesday, and they scored the first six points of the third quarter against Washington to trim a 12-point hole in half.

After Anthony made a jumper over Butler from the wing to make it 69-64 with 7+ minutes left in the third quarter, though, the Nuggets' star was whistled for a technical foul. Butler made the free throw to open an 8-2 Washington run, and Denver never got closer than nine points again.

That basket gave Anthony 30 points, the league-leading 14th time he's hit that mark this season.

But while he shot 16-for-27 from the field, Denver's other four starters combined for that many field-goal attempts.

"That's our coach's job. If he's taking the majority of the shots, who else is there to shoot the ball? There's no shots to go around, so Coach has to do a great job of figuring that out. That's a tough situation that he's in,'' said Marcus Camby, who went 6-for-7 for 12 points. "Carmelo is a great scorer. We all know he's our go-to guy but we have to spread the wealth around to keep guys happy.''

Anthony and Arenas put on quite a show for stretches. Arenas would hit a jumper, then a few ticks of the clock later, Anthony would do the same at the other end.

Arenas finished 10-for-21 from the field and 11-for-12 from the line. Neither he nor Anthony played in the final 4+ minutes, because the Wizards had put the game away.

The tone was set in the first quarter, when the Wizards went up by 15 and finished it ahead 39-26 - the hosts' highest-scoring opening period and largest lead after one quarter this season.

"I think 'Melo is having a fantastic year, but I think the starters, including 'Melo, have got to take more responsibility at the defensive end of the court,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said. ``I love to run. I love to score a lot of points. But there is two ends of the court you've got to play.''

Notes: With C Etan Thomas out with a sprained left ankle, it was the first game this season that Washington didn't have its five regular starters. Now the Minnesota Timberwolves are the only NBA team that's used the same lineup to begin each game. ... Haywood was the starting center last season, but Thomas beat him out for the job this preseason. ``You've got to make the most of your opportunity. It only knocks once. That's what they tell me,'' Haywood said. ... Actor James Earl Jones recited the pregame national anthem. ... Nuggets F Joe Smith (sprained right ankle) missed his seventh consecutive game.

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