SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gilbert Arenas had two choices.
He could foul Utah's Keith McLeod, but with the Washington
Wizards leading only by a point with seconds remaining, two free
throws could have given the Jazz a win.
Option II was play tight defense and make McLeod's attempt as
difficult as possible. Arenas went with the second choice, and
McLeod's shot bounced off the backboard and rim and missed just
before the final buzzer as Washington hung on for an 85-84 win
Thursday night -- the Wizards' first in Utah since 1997.
"I was just hoping no one on their team could tip it back in.
And he shot it hard enough so they couldn't," said Arenas, who
finished with 29 points.
Larry Hughes scored 25 for Washington, including a shot from the
top of the key to put Washington ahead to stay with 46.4 seconds
remaining. Hughes got the game-winner, but he could have just as
easily cost the Wizards the game.
Washington had the ball with about a 5-second difference between
the game and shot clocks. Hughes started to drive when the Wizards
needed to get off a shot or risk turning it over, and McLeod
reached in and stole the ball with about 7 seconds to play.
McLeod and Raja Bell broke downcourt for Utah, and Arenas
sprinted to get back in time and contest McLeod's shot with about a
"Anything could have happened on that last play," Washington
coach Eddie Jordan said.
McLeod yelled for a foul but didn't get it -- a complaint Utah
had all night. Washington shot 37 free throws to Utah's 11,
including just three in the second half.
After the horn, the Wizards ran off the bench to celebrate their
first victory in the Delta Center since Nov. 3, 1997 -- also the
last season the Wizards swept the Jazz until Thursday. The Wizards
beat Utah 96-95 five days earlier in Washington.
"It's a tough way to lose a game, but it happens. We've lost by
one point a lot this year," said Matt Harpring, who had 18 points
and six assists off the bench for Utah.
Utah lost much more than the game, too. Forward Andrei Kirilenko
broke his wrist after colliding with Washington's Kwame Brown just
3:02 into the game. Kirilenko, an All-Star last season, put both
hands down to break his fall when his feet went out from under him,
and the impact when he landed snapped his wrist.
"I think it's good I don't need surgery, but still I need about
a month to heal it," Kirilenko said.
The Wizards improved to 1-1 on a five-game road trip as they try
to clinch their first playoff berth since 1997. Washington is
playing without some of its top players in Anthony Peeler (knee),
Juan Dixon (ankle) and Antawn Jamison (knee).
Arenas said the injured Wizards shouldn't rush back.
"Get it right. We'll fight until you get back," Arenas said.
"If we're getting in trouble and you need to come back, hey -- you
do that. But if we're doing fine, go ahead and relax it."
Despite the huge margin, Washington didn't help itself much from
the free throw line, going 26-for-37. Utah kept it close by
outscoring the Wizards 36-22 inside, rallying from a nine-point
deficit and nearly winning it in a thrilling end to a somewhat
"We missed a couple free throws down the stretch, but I don't
think we squeaked by. I think we had control, but those guys made
some big shots toward the end," Hughes said.
McLeod hit two free throws with 3:30 remaining -- Utah's first
shots from the line since Harpring's three-point play with 3:04
left in the third -- to put the Jazz up 80-79. Arenas answered with
a putback, then McLeod put Utah ahead again with a 17-foot jumper.
Brown made two free throws with 1:18 remaining, then the lead
went back to Utah on Gordan Giricek's short jumper.
It lasted until Hughes, who was 8-for-21 from the floor, hit a
jumper just inside the 3-point line.
McLeod finished with 13 points and Giricek scored 11.
Brown was the only other Wizard to score in double figures with
Washington improved to 4-8 on the road against Western
Conference teams. ... The Wizards were called for goaltending four
times. ... Utah shot one free throw in third quarter.