WASHINGTON (AP) -- After getting back to the .500 mark, the
Washington Wizards hope their worst basketball is behind them.
"We started off hot and then we cooled down, but we stayed
alive," said Gilbert Arenas, who had 28 points and five assists to
lead the Wizards to a 96-89 victory over the road-weary Portland
Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. "We're .500 and it's great for
us now. Let's work on making that our worst month of the season."
Antawn Jamison, who had 20 points and 15 rebounds for his sixth
straight double-double, echoed that sentiment for the Wizards -- who
won five of their first six games.
"We wanted to end the month with at least a .500 record," said
Jamison, who has totaled 88 rebounds in his last six games. "We
definitely wanted to come out and try to get back on track the way
were were earlier in this month and get this kind of momentum going
into next month. It's always positive when you can keep it at
Coincidentally, the Wizards are 3-3 against Western Conference
teams and 4-4 against Eastern Conference clubs.
"This game was similar to the ones that we have played all
month," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We had our ups and
downs, ebbs and flows, and Gilbert made a big shot at the end."
After Arenas made two free throws that gave the Wizards an 87-83
lead with 2:19 left, Joel Przybilla scored six straight points to
keep the Trail Blazers close until Arenas made a 3-pointer for a
93-89 lead with 34 seconds remaining.
Darius Miles led Portland with 21 points before fouling out with
18 seconds left on the play that sealed Washington's victory. Jared
Jeffries stole the ball from Zach Randolph and passed to Jarvis
Hayes, who converted a three-point play over Randolph that gave the
Wizards a 96-89 lead.
"I think that's what I bring to this team," Jeffries said.
"We have guys who can score the ball at a great rate, so it's a
matter of coming in and doing things other people don't do quite as
Przybilla had season-highs of 17 points, 15 rebounds and six
blocks as the Trail Blazers concluded a 2-5 road trip -- their
longest of the season.
"I'm just going out there playing and getting a better feel for
the players and the system," Przybilla said. "It was a good night
but we had 21 turnovers. That's like giving them a 10 or 15-point
lead at the beginning of the game."
The Trail Blazers also gave up 21 offensive rebounds to the
Wizards, who got 13 points and nine rebounds from Brendan Haywood.
"When we get good penetration from our guards it makes it
easier to get to the glass," Haywood said. "We're still not
playing great basketball. We're playing decent but we have to step
it up if we want to win basketball games. Every time we have a good
win we have a devastating loss, so we just have to keep working
The Wizards went on a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter
after playing a sloppy first half that included numerous missed
layups, traveling calls and a shot-clock violation.
"It's only a matter of time as far as the new guys getting
acquainted with what we want to do on offense," Jamison said.
Portland took an early 10-point lead on a slam follow by
Przybilla with 3:25 remaining in the first quarter. The Trail
Blazers led by as many as 12 points in the first half.
Washington had a 53-51 lead at halftime, despite not leading by
more than two points in the first two quarters.
Former Wizards and Maryland star Juan Dixon entered the game in
the final minute of the first quarter and received a rousing
ovation. He finished with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in 28
Steve Blake, another former Wizards and Terrapins player,
started the fourth quarter to less fanfare. He was scoreless in 4
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan played 13 games for the Trail
Blazers in 1983-84. ... Trail Blazers GM John Nash held the same
post in Washington for six seasons. ... On Singles Night at MCI
Center, one fan got a date with Wizards guard Donell Taylor by
winning a Dating Game.