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In Home Loss, A Big Difference

Wizards' 13-Point Defeat Largest at MCI: Warriors 103, Wizards 90

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 5, 2005; Page D01

This was a home game the Washington Wizards needed, with 10 of the next 12 on the road. It was a game that the Wizards felt they shouldn't have had much trouble with, against a Golden State Warriors team that entered MCI Center with just six road wins. It was a game in which they needed someone to step up with the roster whittled down to nine healthy players.

Instead, the Wizards punted the game away, as they suffered their most lopsided home loss of the season, 103-90. They finished this frustrating night with eight players, after point guard Steve Blake was ejected in the fourth quarter.

Baron Davis takes one away from Gilbert Arenas as the Wizards suffer their most lopsided home loss of the season, 103-90, to Golden State. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

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The Wizards (32-25) have lost six of their past eight and two of their past three at home. With 3 minutes 29 seconds left, newly acquired Warriors point guard Baron Davis drove into the lane and kicked the ball out to swingman Jason Richardson, who buried a three-pointer to give the Warriors a 15-point lead. Then, Richardson blew a kiss to the crowd, which booed the home team for the first time this season. "It was disappointing and discouraging. It was a poor performance and it is disturbing," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "I am not going to sit here and be happy about it or put on a smiling face. I was not happy with the way we played."

If the Wizards were dominated by the Warriors, that'd be one story. But the Warriors shot just 41.6 percent and were outrebounded, 49-42. Yet, the Warriors led by 19 when Richardson (34 points) drained his sixth three-pointer with 1:56 left. The Wizards committed 20 turnovers and missed 15 of 36 attempts from the foul line.

"It's unacceptable at this point in the season," said Larry Hughes, who led the Wizards with 27 points in his second game back since returning from a broken thumb. "We definitely can't feel too good about ourselves right now. It was our own fault."

Two nights after Hughes helped the Wizards to an uplifting win against the Houston Rockets, the team was completely flat. The Wizards' three former Warriors and primary offensive options -- Hughes, Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison -- combined to shoot just 18 of 51. Hughes was 8 of 21, including 0 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc. Arenas had 23 points (on 7-of-18 shooting) with eight assists and didn't stick around to talk afterward. Jamison continued his poor play of late, going 3 of 12 for just nine points. "My energy hasn't been there the last couple of games. I can't use the excuse, that over the course of the season it's going to happen," said Jamison, who has shot 18 for 60 (26 percent) in the past four games, three of which have been losses.

"These guys look up to me, and I don't bring it, maybe it rubs off on the rest of these guys. Maybe I've got to do a better job of bringing the energy, getting fired up before games and stop taking it for granted and think these guys are going to do it on their own. "

The Wizards discovered before the game that Jarvis Hayes will miss the next four to six weeks with a fractured patella, reducing their active roster to 10 healthy players with Jared Jeffries missing his third consecutive game with a bruised right knee. But the roster was trimmed to nine when reserve center Etan Thomas became ill with a stomach virus. Thomas went home at halftime and didn't travel with the team to Charlotte for tonight's game against the Bobcats.

The game took a turn for the worse in the third quarter. They were tied at 58 but shortly thereafter, Kwame Brown (9 points and 9 rebounds) sat and the game began to slip away. In the 16 minutes Brown sat, the Wizards were outscored, 39-26. By the time he re-entered, the game was out of reach. Asked about Brown after the game, Jordan became defensive. "Why do you ask?" Jordan said. "He didn't play well, nor did anybody else. There is nothing wrong with him."

Said Hughes: "We're not going to put any extra pressure on ourselves. We can't afford to get uptight. We should win the games we're slated to win, but nothing is given."

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