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Surprising Wizards overcome 17-point deficit

CLEVELAND (AP) -- After the final horn sounded, Washington's
Anthony Peeler grabbed the ball and slammed it off the Gund Arena
floor as hard as he could. As it rose toward the rafters, Peeler
pumped his fist and yelled.

The surprising Wizards had done it again.

Peeler made three 3-pointers and scored all 14 of his points in
the fourth quarter, and Gilbert Arenas scored 30 as the Wizards
rallied for a 106-97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday
night.

With their 10th win in 12 games, the Wizards (25-15) matched
their win total from last season, when they went 25-57.

Washington scored just 30 points in the first half, but overcame
a 17-point deficit by making 39 free throws and pulling out the
type of game the Wizards probably would have let slip away last
season.

"They rattled us in the first half," Arenas said. "We didn't
know what to do. But we were down by 10 -- that's five baskets. And
the way our guys shoot the 3, less than that."

LeBron James just missed his third triple-double in four games,
finishing with 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for
Cleveland, which was coming off a six-game West Coast trip. The
Cavs lost at home for just the fourth time in 18 games.

"We gave up a lot of free throws," James said after the Cavs
attempted just 23 to Washington's 49. "We kept fouling their jump
shooters and they just came out and made shots in the second
half."

The Wizards also improved to 3-2 without swingman Larry Hughes,
sidelined with a broken thumb.

Arenas took special satisfaction in beating James.

"He is the NBA right now," Arenas said of Cleveland's
second-year star. "You've got to come to play or he will embarrass
you. It's the big matchup, I take it personal."

Peeler drained his 3s in a span of 4:27 and made three free
throws after being fouled on a long-range shot for Washington,
which entered the fourth down 73-68 before storming back.

Antawn Jamison added 16 points and Brendan Haywood 15 for the
Wizards, who had six players score in double figures.

Washington's bench was no factor for most of the first three
quarters, chipping in with just two points before the final period.
But Peeler started the fourth with a 3-pointer and the Wizards'
reserves scored 16 of 20 points to open the quarter.

Peeler's second 3 of the fourth gave the Wizards a 78-76 lead,
their first since the game's opening basket. Etan Thomas then
scored two straight buckets to make it 82-78 with 6:54 remaining
before Peeler, who missed all four of his shots in the first half,
hit another long 3.

"He's got the green light for the 3 and he hit them," Wizards
coach Eddie Jordan said.

Cleveland closed to 90-85 on Drew Gooden's two free throws but
Arenas hit another 3-pointer, and the Wizards put it away by making
10 free throws in the final 2:31.

The Cavs played their second game without starting point guard
Jeff McInnis, out with a sprained left foot. His replacement, Eric
Snow, had 10 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in 45 minutes.

Cavs rookie forward Anderson Varejao had 10 rebounds in 19
minutes before bruising his left leg with 8:38 left. The Brazilian
was helped to the locker room and did not return. He was on
crutches in the locker room afterward and will be evaluated at the
Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday.

The Wizards managed just 30 points -- a season low for a half --
on 26 percent shooting to trail 40-30 at halftime. But they found
their range in the third quarter, making 10 straight shots to pull
to 57-56 on a 3-pointer from Arenas.

Game notes
The Wizards shot just 14 percent (3-for-22) and were
outscored 18-0 inside during the first quarter. ... McInnis expects
to practice on Tuesday and might play Wednesday against Memphis.
... James was named the Eastern Conference's player of the week
after averaging 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 2.0
steals in the final three games of the Cavs' road trip. James, the
East's top player in November, posted two triple-doubles during the
week. ... James hasn't decided if he'll take part in next month's
dunk contest during All-Star weekend in Denver. "That's still up
in the air," he said. ... Ohio State football great Archie Griffin
was honored during halftime ceremonies celebrating black history
month. ... Washington is 14-1 when holding an opponent under 100
points.