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Magic Ends Wizards' Winning Streak at 4

Arenas, Jamison Total 58 Points in Loss: Magic 108, Wizards 101

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2005; Page D01

ORLANDO, Jan. 28 -- In an attempt to rattle Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas at the foul line with 11 seconds left, fans at TD Waterhouse Centre began taunting him with chants of "Gil-bert! Gil-bert!" Arenas whirled the ball around his waist and sank the free throw to silence the crowd. Then, Arenas shook his head and looked toward the ground with a look of anguish, knowing that he pretty much made that one point irrelevant because he had already missed five free throws in the last two minutes of the game.

"I think the rim was broken at the end. They really need to fix that before we come back to play," Arenas said after the Wizards lost to the Orlando Magic, 108-101, on Friday night. "Really, I felt like a rookie again, when crunch time comes. I choked it up. All you can do is laugh about it now."

Gilbert Arenas scores for the Wizards, who lost in Orlando for 15th time in 16 games. Arenas finished with 30 points and Antawn Jamison added 28. (Peter Cosgrove -- AP)

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Arenas then chuckled for about two seconds. He scored 30 points to lead the Wizards (26-16), but he wasn't in a jovial mood after the Wizards lost in Orlando for the fifth straight game and the 15th time in 16 games.

Not only did Arenas have to live with going 2 of 7 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, but after he missed a free throw that could have given the Wizards a one-point lead with 57 seconds left, he had to watch Magic point guard Steve Francis bury the decisive basket 13 seconds later.

Arenas didn't have to think twice about which hurt more. "The free throws hurt," said Arenas, an 82 percent free throw shooter this season. "Because I have control of that. It's just me and that free throw line and it wouldn't go in at the end. I can't let this hang over me."

Neither can the Wizards, who will face the Magic again Saturday at MCI Center. Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu shot 5 of 7 from the beyond the three-point line and scored 31 points to lead the Magic (23-19), which snapped a two-game losing streak. Magic forward Grant Hill had 22 points and rookie Dwight Howard recorded his 12th double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Francis, the former Maryland standout, missed his first 11 field goal attempts but was 8 of 8 from the foul line and finished with 10 points. His 17-foot jumper gave the Magic a 102-100 lead with 44 seconds left. "He made one shot out of the 12 he took," Wizards guard Anthony Peeler said with a laugh. "That's just the sign of a great player."

Although the Wizards made just 23 of 34 attempts from the free throw line and the Magic hit 20 of 21, Washington Coach Eddie Jordan blamed himself for the team's first loss in five games. "There were some coaching situations where I didn't come through," Jordan said. "I wasn't on top of my game, I guess."

Jordan was especially apologetic for sitting forward Antawn Jamison during a critical five-minute stretch in the fourth quarter. Jamison was rolling most of the night, scoring 28 points with an assortment of jumpers, hook shots and floaters, but he didn't score in the final 7 minutes 55 seconds and missed his only attempt in the final two minutes.

Jamison didn't complain. "He's the coach. I thought he did a great job," Jamison said. "It's just a couple of situations we didn't capitalize on. The things we normally do in a close game like that, it was totally opposite. We got rattled a little bit."

The Wizards trailed 85-78 when Turkoglu (31 points) drained his fifth three-pointer with 9:03 left. But the Wizards tied the game at 89 in about three minutes, with Arenas completing a three-point play to complete an 11-4 run. The Wizards led 98-94 when Arenas hit a tough 16-foot jumper in front of Magic guard Doug Christie with 3:13 left. "We thought we were going to pull it out," Peeler said. "We have a lot of confidence when it comes to close games. We relish the situation. It's one of those games we came up short tonight."

Arenas scored at least 30 points for the 10th time this season and the fifth time in the past six games. He was handcuffed for the first three quarters as Christie helped harass him into 3-of-11 shooting. But Jordan has dubbed the fourth quarter "Gilbert time" and he scored 18 points in the period, connecting on 5 of 11 shots in the period. He had no trouble getting around Christie or Hill for buckets or fouls in the fourth -- but he couldn't find his stroke with no one standing in front of him.

"If I had made at least two of the five I missed, we'd still be playing," said Arenas, who finished 13 of 18 from the foul line. "I just got to brush it off my shoulder."

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