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Arenas' struggles continue, but Wizards top Sixers

PHILADELPHIA -- Gilbert Arenas' bold-talking, high-scoring first half of the season ended with a whimper.

Arenas struggled with his shot -- again -- scoring 22 points on 8-for-26 shooting, and the Washington Wizards broke open a close game in the fourth quarter and held on for a 92-85 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

Caron Butler scored 16, Darius Songaila added 12 and Andray Blatche, making just his second start of the season, had his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as the Wizards won for just the second time in six games.

It was yet another poor shooting performance for Arenas, who is headed to the All-Star Game this weekend in Las Vegas. And, despite a first half of the season that included a 60-point game and three games of 50 points or more, Arenas isn't in the mood to evaluate.

"When I look back, it's always at the end of the season, never in the middle," said Arenas, who ranks second in the league in scoring with a 29-point average. "I know I need to turn it up a tune, get my shot back on target, get my feet right, get ready for the second half to start off on a positive note."

Washington is trying to move past a turbulent stretch during which backup center Etan Thomas punched a teammate during practice and Arenas predicted he'd score 50 points against Portland, only to fall 41 points short.

Arenas eclipsed his nine-point effort in the previous game with 10 in the first half, but his shooting woes continued. He was coming off a 3-for-15 effort against the Trail Blazers, a 10-for-24 showing against San Antonio and a 4-for-14 performance against Seattle.

Washington coach Eddie Jordan seems to think the grueling first half finally caught up to Arenas.

"I see a little bit of fatigue in Gil," said Jordan, who has the Wizards atop the Southeast Division with a record of 29-21.

Arenas rejected the idea that he is tired.

"I don't feel it, but sometimes when I'm shooting, I'm like, 'Am I using my legs?' After the All-Star break, my confidence will come back on my shot," he said. "I'll be ready to go."

One positive for the Wizards was solid play by their reserves.

"It's a great win because it's on the road," Jordan said. "It's a great win because these [bench] guys contributed."

The Sixers had their typical balanced scoring effort but were slowed by poor shooting, going 30-for-79 (38 percent), and 20 turnovers.

Kyle Korver led the way with 18 points, Andre Iguodala added 14 points and 13 rebounds, Rodney Carney and Andre Miller each scored 13, while Joe Smith added 12 and Samuel Dalembert pitched in with 17 rebounds and 11 points.

"They scored 31 points off our turnovers and I think that was a big key to the game," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "It's unfortunate. We came home knowing that we had six or seven straight home games, and we had hoped to fair a little better than this.

"Going 2-4 is not what we had hoped for," he said.

Neither team was able to break away until the Wizards moved out to a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Then the Sixers made a run.

Korver hit a 3-pointer that cut the deficit to three with 1:35 left, and Carney missed a chance to tie when he misfired on a 3.

Butler missed a 3 for the Wizards and the Sixers took possession with 31.9 seconds left, still trailing by three.

Iguodala missed a short jumper with 25 seconds left, and Butler was fouled at the other end and made two free throws to give Washington a 90-85 lead.

Iguodala missed a 3-point try and Korver followed with a miss from long range in the final seconds. Arenas went to the line with 7.1 seconds left, hit two shots and completed the scoring.

Another crucial stretch for the Wizards came early in the fourth quarter -- with Arenas on the bench. Washington went on a 12-2 run to turn a one-point lead into a nine-point cushion. Calvin Booth and Jarvis Hayes each scored four points in the outburst.

The Sixers inched to a 45-44 lead at the half, despite 11 turnovers and 41.9 percent shooting (18-for-43).

Dalembert's play was one of few bright spots for the Sixers in the first half as the 7-footer pulled down 12 rebounds.

Game notes
Sixers center-forward Steven Hunter did not play because of a dislocated finger on his left hand. He's expected back in the lineup after the All-Star break. ... Thomas sat out, serving a suspension leveled by Jordan for punching Brendan Haywood during practice on Friday. ... Wizards captain Antawn Jamison missed the game with a knee injury.