(37-29, 12-20 away)
(26-41, 18-16 home)
7:00 PM ET, March 21, 2007
Key Arena, Seattle, WA
SEATTLE (AP) -- Gilbert Arenas tried to leave Seattle fans with a souvenir. And "Agent Zero" wasn't talking about yet another game-winning shot.
Arenas crossed over Earl Watson, drove with his left hand, then switched to his right and banked in a short-runner at the buzzer, capping a 42-point performance and giving the Washington Wizards a 108-106 victory over the SuperSonics on Wednesday night.
And as he jogged off the court, Arenas dropped his jersey at the free throw line, hoping a mob of fans would rush the floor trying to snatch the blue uniform.
"Maybe it would be better to do that at home," Arenas said.
The difficult game-winner, in which Arenas took a bump from Watson and avoided the swatting arms of Chris Wilcox and Rashard Lewis, came 24 hours after the All-Star was well short with a floater that would have forced overtime in Portland.
This time, Arenas didn't pull up, powering through the lane and converting.
"Same type of game, but not the same ending though," Arenas said. "Tonight I had a chance to redeem myself and did."
Washington kept its slim lead over Miami in the Southeast Division, but it wasn't easy against the short-handed Sonics, who played without All-Star Ray Allen.
Arenas rebounded from a poor shooting performance on Tuesday night, when was just 4-of-16. On Wednesday, he left Seattle fans buzzing with his fourth game-winner this season, and atoned for a missed reverse layup with less than a minute remaining that would have given Washington the lead.
Wearing pink-tinted shoes with black and white graffiti designs, Arenas made 13 of 24 shots, including six 3-pointers, and topped the 40-point mark for the ninth time this season.
Wilcox led Seattle with 27 points and 22 rebounds, but the Sonics lost for 19th time this season by six or fewer points. Wilcox posted just the second 20-20 game for Seattle since 1995. Wilcox went for 26 points and 24 rebounds against Houston on April, 4, 2006.
"We deserved to win that game. Honestly, I thought we were going to win that game," Lewis said.
Seattle made a strong effort without Allen, its leading scorer at 26.4 points, who sat out with pain and discomfort from bone spurs in his left ankle. Allen is considering season-ending surgery.
Washington's tendency this season has been to let down when facing teams without their stars. The Wizards previously lost to Miami without Dwyane Wade, Atlanta without Joe Johnson and the Hornets without Chris Paul.
That scenario nearly played out again.
Allen's replacement, Damien Wilkins, pulled Seattle within 100-99 on a 3-pointer with 2:50 left. After Antonio Daniels missed, the Sonics went to work on the offensive boards, with both Wilcox and Lewis pulling away rebounds in a crowd after a pair of misses. Lewis finally banked in a turnaround 10-footer to give the Sonics a 101-100 lead.
Antawn Jamison quickly answered with an open 3-pointer, but Lewis hit one of his own for a 104-103 Seattle lead. Arenas then drove baseline but left a reverse layup on the lip of the rim.
Luke Ridnour couldn't capitalize, though, missing a 20-footer. Daniels sprinted past Ridnour and was fouled, hitting both free throws for a 105-104 lead.
Lewis then drove, and as he tried a scoop, Michael Ruffin blocked the shot out of bounds off of Lewis with 14 seconds left. Washington inbounded the ball to Darius Songaila, who was immediately fouled, and split the free throws for a 106-104 advantage.
After a timeout, Seattle used the same play again with Lewis driving. This time, Lewis was fouled and swished both free throws.
Arenas calmly dribbled upcourt before beginning his drive with 4 seconds left.
"You have to pick your poison. Are you going to double him and allow Antawn or Darius to be open? Or are you going to play him 1-on-1 and hope to get help?" Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "He beat help and I thought he beat a couple fouls getting to the basket."
Lewis added 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Watson scored 15 points. Seattle lost center Nick Collison in the third quarter with a scratched cornea in his left eye. He was wearing a patch after the game and will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
Washington All-Star F Caron Butler is scheduled to rejoin the Wizards in San Francisco on Thursday, a team spokesman said. Butler has missed the last three games with a left knee contusion, but it has not been determined if Butler will play on Friday against Golden State. ... Washington F Jarvis Hayes missed Wednesday's games after spraining his foot on Tuesday night in Portland. Jordan said Hayes would be day-to-day.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||39-88 (.443)||37-91 (.407)|
|3PM-3PA||11-31 (.355)||8-23 (.348)|
|FTM-FTA||19-27 (.704)||24-31 (.774)|
|Fast Break Points||14||8|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (1/0)||20 (2/0)|