Hughes hit a 3-pointer and then made a steal and a layup on consecutive fourth-quarter plays to lead the Wizards a 97-86 victory over the woeful Nets on Saturday night.
Hughes scored 10 of his 22 points in the final quarter, including seven straight with the game on the line, to give Washington its first win in the Garden State since 1999.
"It's not about how many points I score, it's what I contribute at both ends at the right time," said Hughes, who pushed his NBA-leading steal total to 29 with five against the Nets. "If the team needs something, I'm able to step in and do it big and make a big impact at a certain time to give us an edge."
New Jersey, which led by two points starting the final quarter, got within 81-79 when Richard Jefferson dunked with 6:03 to play.
Hughes then took over. After hitting 1-of-2 free throws, he nailed a 3-pointer with 5:08 to play after Jefferson missed two shots underneath.
Hughes then stole a pass from Travis Best to Jefferson for a layup and an 87-79 lead with 4:53 to go. After a jumper by Best, Hughes hit 1-of-2 free throws for his seventh straight point for Washington.
"That was the game," Jefferson said. "We have trouble enough scoring points and when you miss point-blank shots, it's tough."
The Nets, who had 19 total turnovers, never got closer than five points thereafter.
Antawn Jamison added 27 points for Washington, which had lost its last eight games in New Jersey.
Jarvis Hayes had seven of his 14 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards snapped a four-game overall losing streak against New Jersey. The win was also the first for former Nets assistant and current Wizards coach Eddie Jordan against his old team.
"Larry was big again, and Antawn has been the leader for us whether he's scoring points or he's defending," Jordan said.
Jefferson had 22 points to lead New Jersey, which lost its fifth straight game. Eric Williams added 16 points and Alonzo Mourning and Zoran Planinic 14 apiece for the dismantled Nets -- now 1-6 at home.
"I am tired of losing," Mourning said.
New Jersey, which trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, used a 15-4 run at the end of the third quarter to take a 69-67 lead.
It marked only the second time this season that the Nets held the lead entering the final period.
Mourning started the run with a drive down the lane. Jefferson hit a turnaround jumper and a 3-pointer, and Williams and Travis Best added four points apiece.
The Wizards used a 19-3 spurt bridging the first and second quarters to take a 39-26 lead. Hayes had seven points, Anthony Peeler five and Jamison four.
The last Washington win at the Continental Airlines Arena had been on Nov. 11, 1999.
Wizards backup forward Samaki Walker missed the game with a lower back strain. ... Washington activated guard Steve Blake on
Saturday and put guard Laron Profit on the injured list with a knee problem. ... Washington guard Gilbert Arenas had seven points playing with foul problems. ... Mourning got a technical in the second
quarter for arguing a foul call. ...The Nets' 86 points were the fewest allowed by Washington this season.