By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 19, 2006
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were the source of a summer's worth of angst in Washington after they bounced the Wizards out of the playoffs in a thrilling first-round series. Last night, Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards earned a small measure of revenge.
Arenas bounced back from three consecutive sub-30-point games by pouring in a season-high 45 points and the Wizards (4-5) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 111-99 win over the Cavaliers in front of 20,173 at Verizon Center.
The otherwise joyous night did end on a somber note, however, when Wizards guard Jarvis Hayes was taken off the court on a stretcher after suffering a back contusion and hitting his head following a mid-air collision with Shannon Brown with 2 minutes 31 seconds remaining.
Hayes was able to open and close his eyes and had movement in his arms and legs. He was taken to Sibley Memorial Hospital as a precautionary measure.
James scored 20 points to lead Cleveland but was victimized by Arenas during a key stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters, when the Wizards took control with a 17-2 run.
Arenas closed the third by making a three-pointer over James with 0.9 of a second remaining, caused James to fall to the floor before spinning and making a jumper early in the fourth and made another three-pointer over James, giving the Wizards a 100-76 lead with 9:19 remaining.
Making the night even sweeter for Wizards fans, Cleveland guard Damon Jones, who made the game-winning jump shot in the sixth and deciding game of last season's playoff series, was ejected after receiving two technical fouls late in the game.
"I was feeling it tonight again, at home," said Arenas, who has topped 40 points in three of five home games. "I've been in a slump for the last three games, couldn't find my shot, couldn't feel it so I came in at about 3 o'clock and got about 400 makes [made shots] up."
The extra shooting -- Arenas said he made 250 three-pointers during the afternoon shooting session -- helped the Wizards even the season series with the Cavaliers, who won the Nov. 1 opener in Cleveland by three points. Cleveland played without former Wizard guard Larry Hughes, who is out with a right ankle injury.
Both teams were playing for the second consecutive night -- the Wizards lost at Detroit while the Cavaliers won at home over Minnesota on Friday -- but it was the Wizards who were able to seize momentum with 47.6 percent shooting while outrebounding Cleveland, 41-37.
"We needed it, it was about will," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "Will and determination. We gutted it out. It was about what team needed it most and what team could show that it needed it most and, we made shots and that helped us keep the juice going defensively."
The Cavaliers led by eight with just under six minutes to play in the second quarter but the Wizards opened up a 12-point lead with 6:34 remaining in the third when Arenas sank an 18-foot jumper in transition.
The lead hovered around double figures through the remainder of the period but the Wizards created separation with a late push that included a Hayes layup that completed a fast break and a pair of Arenas three-pointers, including the one over James that increased the lead to 93-74 heading into the fourth.
The Wizards also were able to frustrate James, who was 3 of 10 from the field in the second half with three turnovers and two personal fouls. DeShawn Stevenson defended James most of the game and was able to force James into difficult, fadeaway jump shots. When Stevenson wasn't hounding James, Caron Butler (11 points, 10 rebounds) did the same.
"Any player who gets 20 to 25 shots a game, you aren't going to stop him, all you can do is make him earn it," said Stevenson, who added a season-high 15 points along with four assists. "With a guy like LeBron, you know he's going to get points and he's going to get calls. You just have to deny and make it tough. Tonight he had 20 but you could tell it was a tough 20."
Wizards Note: Washington wore its alternate black and gold uniforms for the first time.