Daily Confidential

DeShawn Stevenson's performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier this week has led to a lot of teasing of Washington Wizards teammate Gilbert Arenas.

Stevenson looks for another strong game Sunday afternoon when Southeast Division-leading Washington (31-22) visits Minnesota (25-30).

Stevenson scored a season-high 23 points in the Wizards' 112-100 win over the Timberwolves on Tuesday, improving his shooting percentage to 50.1 at the time - higher than Arenas' 42.0 percent shooting.

"He's 'Hibachi,' but I'm 'Mr. Fifty,'" Stevenson said after that game. "Put that in the newspaper so he'll get mad."

Stevenson said the comments did get back to Arenas.

"He was kind of ticked off about it," he said. "But, you know, Gilbert and I go back and forth."

Stevenson is averaging 10.3 points, but coach Eddie Jordan believes he has made real progress since Antawn Jamison went down with a sprained left knee on Jan. 30.

"He stays within his role," Jordan said. "And he saw that his role changed when Antawn went out. So, as good veterans will do, he said 'Well, I've got to be aggressive and take a little bit of the responsibility to score.' And that's a good, sound, solid veteran."

Jamison, averaging 19.3 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game, is expected to return sometime in the next few weeks.

Stevenson, who has averaged 13.7 points since Jamison's injury, admits that he hopes his recent play will result in a better contract. He gave up $3 million to opt out of his final season in Orlando and the only team that offered him a deal was the Wizards, who are paying him just $932,000 this season.

"I actually like the role that I'm in right now," Stevenson said. "I play defense, pick up the best guy on the team, and knock down shots. I fit into it. I'm on a team where I don't need to score 15, 16 points to get a contract. I can do the things I need to do and still get the nice contract I'm looking for."

He scored 13 points as the Wizards opened a three-game road trip with a 105-90 loss to Chicago on Friday. Arenas led Washington with 36 points and seven rebounds, and scored 18 straight points during a second-half run before the Bulls pulled away.

The Wizards conclude their trip Tuesday against New Jersey.

The Timberwolves have lost three straight, including a 116-104 defeat to Phoenix on Friday. Kevin Garnett scored 28 points and added a season-high 19 rebounds, while Randy Foye scored 14.

The 116 points was the second-highest total given up this season by Minnesota, which fell a season-low five games under .500.

"We have to stop this bleeding," Garnett said. "The trade deadline is over. No one is going to come in here with a cape on and making anything happen. The responsibility is on us, as always."

This is the third game of a season-high five-game homestand for the Timberwolves, who have won six straight over Washington at the Target Center.

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