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Mason's 22 help Hornets overcome Arenas, Wizards

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Out of the league at the beginning of the
season, Devin Brown was looking forward to facing a premier point
guard like Gilbert Arenas.

When he got his chance, Brown turned in his best performance
since the New Orleans Hornets gave him a second chance in the NBA.

Brown had a season-high 19 points and career-best nine assists
to back a 22-point performance from Desmond Mason as the Hornets
held off Arenas and the Washington Wizards 104-97 Friday night.

"I'm a makeshift point guard out there, and you're going
against a guy like Gilbert that's been on a tear. You look at it as
a challenge, especially coming off a 2½-month layoff," said Brown,
who was cut by Golden State before the season.

"That's how you get respect and that's how you earn people's
trust out there."

Going up against Brown, who signed as a free agent last month,
Arenas scored 23 points on a rough shooting night, and he made as
many mistakes down the stretch as he did shots.

Arenas pulled the Wizards to 91-90 with a 3-pointer, but Mason
answered at the other end with a three-point play to restore the
lead.

Arenas missed a 3-pointer at the other end, and then was in
disbelief after getting called for a charging foul on Washington's
next possession. DeShawn Stevenson was whistled for an offensive
foul the next time down, and the Hornets stretched the lead to
96-90 when Jannero Pargo stole Arenas' crosscourt pass to Hayes and
raced down the court for a layup with 1:10 to play.

Arenas, the NBA's second-leading scorer, got a steal near
midcourt and hit two free throws with 46 seconds left to get
Washington within four, and the deficit was 100-97 after
Stevenson's two foul shots with 19.6 seconds left. But that's as
close as the Wizards got.

Rasual Butler sealed the win with two free throws with 16.4
seconds to play, and Arenas' 3-pointer was off-target at the other
end.

"It was just one of those nights," said Arenas, who made only
5-of-19 shots. "That happens. It's been a rare one for me
lately."

Arenas missed 12 of his first 15 shots and had his worst
shooting percentage (26.3 percent) since he went 1-for-12 in a
95-80 loss to Memphis on Nov. 24. He's 17-for-54 (31.4 percent)
over his last three games.

"You've got to contest [his shot]. As soon as he crosses
halfcourt, he's looking to shoot that thing, and he's a great
shooter and that's what he works on," Brown said. "You can't
limit his touches because he's a point guard, but you want to make
him work for everything."

The Hornets, missing injured starters Chris Paul (ankle), Peja
Stojakovic (back) and David West (elbow), won back-to-back games
for the first time since Nov. 21. They scored more than 100 points
for the first time since a 105-89 win over the Lakers on Dec. 6.

"We're gaining confidence right now. Before we were playing not
to lose. Right now, we're playing to win," Pargo said. "We feel
like we can win with the team we've got here right now, and we're
playing like it."

Stevenson scored a season-high 22 points, Caron Butler added 18
and Antawn Jamison had 14 for Washington.

Rasual Butler added 18 points, Pargo scored 17 points off the
bench, Marc Jackson had 11 and Tyson Chandler got his third
double-double in the past four games with 10 points and 10 rebounds
for the Hornets.

New Orleans took a 70-61 lead in the third quarter with a 13-2
run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Butler and another by
Brown.

But Washington came back, tying the score at 80 on Hayes' 3
while Arenas rested on the bench early in the fourth quarter. The
score was tied twice more, including at 85 on Arenas' free throw
with 6:06 left.

The Wizards hit 12 of their first 17 shots to open a 28-18 lead,
but then went 2-for-11 to allow New Orleans to charge back. Mason's
layup off an alley-oop pass from Brown ended a 17-2 run that gave
the Hornets a 43-36 lead with 4:09 left before halftime.

Stevenson's 3 with 0.8 seconds to go in the first half tied the
score at 51.
^Notes:@ Due to an ice storm, a state of emergency was declared,
schools and non-essential government offices were closed and the
Red Hot Chili Peppers canceled an Oklahoma City concert. However,
the game went on. "This is no biggie," Hornets coach Byron Scott
said. "I'm used to 3½ years in Jersey, where this is the norm
weather-wise, especially at this time." ... Paid attendance was
16,899, but officials estimated 6,500 fans were at the game. There
were enough empty seats that fans in the upper deck were asked to
move down to the lower level after the first quarter. ... Official
Ron Olesiak missed the second half with a calf injury. ...
Stevenson was 7-for-7 in the first half.