Washington 108, Milwaukee 105

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (AP) -- Gilbert Arenas got the ball with the score tied and 6 seconds to play. He dribbled downcourt, read Charlie Bell's retreating feet, stopped and stroked a perfect jumper 32 feet from the basket.

"Once I let it go, I'm like, 'That's in,''' Arenas said. "I don't even need to look at this one.''

He didn't. He turned with a snarl and a strut, strolling away with his back to the basket as if it were another shot on the playground. The ball swished through the net, giving Arenas another signature moment to his growing legacy and the Washington Wizards a 108-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

"I thought he would take one more dribble,'' Bell said. "I give him credit. They say he has no conscience, and he doesn't.''

Arenas had three things working against him Wednesday night. His shooting shoulder was sore from a collision with Ruben Patterson on Saturday. He had to deal with the Bucks' zone defense, which always seems to rattle him. And he had to deal with the return of the old leather ball - after he had won player of the month for December playing with the microfiber one.

No matter. Arenas, who just might be working himself into MVP contention, finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and made the shot that counted most.

"I don't know why this is a surprise to you guys now,'' he said.

Arenas sometimes yells "Hibachi'' or "Guaranteed - yeah'' when he knows a shot is going in. This time, he let the moment speak for itself.

"I didn't say anything,'' he said. "My swag was phenomenal.''

Caron Butler added 29 points, seven rebounds and a career-high nine assists, and Antawn Jamison had 22 points for the Wizards, who earned a split of a home-and-home series. The Bucks beat Washington 119-102 in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Michael Redd led the Bucks with 27 points. Mo Williams scored 24, and Bell had 14.

"There's a point where you hate to lose in that manner,'' Redd said. "Give Gilbert all the credit in the world; he made a tremendous shot.''

The game was a rematch of two of the NBA's hottest December teams. The Wizards went 12-4 last month, while the Bucks were 11-6. Arenas was the player of the month, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was the coach of the month, and Redd was last week's player of the week .

Neither team led by double digits, and there were 25 lead changes. The score was tied at 105 when Washington's Brendan Haywood missed two free throws with 55 seconds remaining, and the Bucks got an extended possession at the other end when Andrew Bogut grabbed an offensive rebound.

But, after a timeout, the Bucks couldn't get a shot for Redd or Williams, settling for Bell's 3-point attempt from the left corner with less than 10 seconds to play. Jamison grabbed the rebound and got the ball to Arenas, who did his thing.

"It was like a flick of a wrist,'' Jordan said. "He's amazing. That's it. He's an amazing player.''

Notes: Butler, who grew up in Wisconsin, was upset when the Wizards lost in front of 41 of his friends and family Saturday, and he also wasn't happy with the way the Bucks celebrated in the fourth quarter. Before the game, Patterson responded to Butler by saying: "Where'd they get that from? We can't be happy we won a basketball game?'' Butler, fired up for the rematch, went 9-for-9 in the first half. ... The Wizards scored 100-plus points for the 15th straight game. ... Haywood started after missing one game with a sprained right foot, but he played only 21 minutes. ... The Wizards took a lighthearted approach to the return of the old ball. A video montage shown between the first and second quarters showed the microfiber ball exploding like the Death Star - accompanied by the "Star Wars'' theme music. Then the leather ball was shown getting out of bed, crossing a street, getting into a cab, punching some meat in a meat locker and victoriously climbing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial - all to the theme from "Rocky.''


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