Wizards' Thomas has 18 points, 10 boards


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Etan Thomas was late getting to the arena
because of a fender bender on the rainy city streets.

It was the first of many collisions for the hardworking forward,
who muscled LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the way
to one of his best games as a pro.

Thomas scored a career-high 18 points and had 10 rebounds,
including seven offensive boards, to lead the Washington Wizards to
a 106-95 victory Wednesday night.

"They came out with a lot of big dunks and high-flying acts,"
said Thomas, who shot 6-of-9. "And we just had to come out and set
the tone."

James did put on a show, scoring a career-high 28 points on
10-for-18 shooting with eight assists and seven rebounds, but
Thomas was by far the dominant force in the game.

"He's the heart and soul of what we do," Washington coach
Eddie Jordan said. "We've kind of taken his personality, his grit
and determination and second effort. He's our leader right now."

Thomas' eventful evening also included a double technical in the
fourth quarter after an altercation that ended with Ira Newble
flinging the ball toward Thomas. Thomas wasn't fazed; he made four
free throws and a fadeaway on the baseline as Washington slowly
pulled away.

Newble said he was reacting to Thomas' physical game.

"If you're going to be a man, be a man all the time -- not just
when someone retaliates," Newble said.

To which Thomas replied: "No problem, no problem. I have
respect for him. It's a game of emotions. I'm an emotional player.
It's not anything personal."

Gilbert Arenas scored 25 points, and Larry Hughes added 22 for
the Wizards. Kwame Brown had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the
Washington frontcourt had one of its best games of the season.

The Wizards avenged a 111-98 loss at Cleveland on Nov. 8 -- the
Cavaliers' first victory of the season after starting 0-5.

Chris Mihm had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who
are 0-7 on the road this season and 0-28 away from home since
January of last season.

The Cavaliers played without leading rebounder Carlos Boozer,
who did not travel with the team after spraining his right ankle in
Tuesday night's win over the Los Angeles Clippers. DeSagana Diop
started for Boozer but got into early foul trouble and didn't play
in the third quarter.

"I give Etan all the credit in the world, but I'm sure Boozer
would have been able to handle some of his strength," Cleveland
coach Paul Silas said.

The game was close until midway through the fourth, when Arenas
hit a 3-pointer to put the Wizards ahead 89-82. The Thomas-Newble
double technical followed, and it seemed to energize the Wizards
the rest of the way.

James' highlights included a perfect alley-oop pass to Ricky
Davis and a spectacular reverse dunk on an alley-oop pass from
Darius Miles in the first quarter. That basket, however, was
followed by a three-minute Cavaliers drought in which the Wizards
opened an 11-point lead.

Jared Jeffries rammed home a flying, one-handed dunk to put the
Wizards ahead by 19 in the second quarter, but the Cavaliers closed
the half with a 22-8 run to pull to 54-49 at halftime.

Arenas made back-to-back 3-pointers to start an otherwise ragged
third quarter. Davis' missed alley-oop dunk was the lowlight, and
the Wizards took a 75-70 lead into the fourth.

Game notes
Miles on trash-talking: "I don't think nobody is bigger
than the game like that, except for like Kobe or Shaq. Ain't nobody
bigger than the game to where they can talk noise to us. They ain't
that good, unless they're Shaq. Unless you've got Shaq on your
team, you can't talk to me." ... Bernie Bickerstaff, coach of the
expansion of Charlotte Bobcats, was at the game. The Bobcats will
be in Washington's division in the realigned NBA when they join the
league next season. ... Wizards center Christian Laettner remains
sidelined with back spasms and is day-to-day. ... Jeffries got a
technical foul in the fourth quarter for pulling down on the rim
after a dunk.