Arenas Nets 54, Wizards Top Suns

Phoenix's Streak Ends at 15 Games: Wizards 144, Suns 139

By Jack Magruder
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, December 23, 2006; Page E01

PHOENIX, Dec. 22 -- After being asked to leave the USA Basketball camp with what was described as a groin injury this summer, Gilbert Arenas was as frank as he was frustrated, promising to score 100 points in his two games against both Phoenix and Portland this season as payback for the perceived slight by Team USA assistant coaches Mike D'Antoni (Suns) and Nate McMillan (Trail Blazers).

Arenas later apologized, although it was clear Friday he has not recanted.

Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas pours in 54 points and gets more than halfway to his goal of scoring 100 points against the Suns, whose coach, Mike D'Antoni was a part of the Team USA staff that cut Arenas from the team. (Tom Hood - AP)

He actually may have undersold himself.

Binge-scoring Arenas had 54 more points as Washington stopped the Phoenix Suns' franchise-record and NBA season-high 15-game winning streak, 144-139 in overtime, before 18,422 at U.S. Airways Arena.

Included was a lingering stare Arenas directed at the Suns' bench after hitting a three-pointer in the final second of the first quarter to give the Wizards a 39-28 lead.

"I guess we took quality shots this game. We played great. We wanted to go 3-1 on this trip and we did," Arenas said in a postgame interview with Comcast SportsNet. "I'm hitting shots, getting to the basket. We're playing good ball right now."

The Wizards, who have won 10 of their last 13 games, have stopped the NBA's two longest winning streaks of the season, both this month, after halting Dallas's 12-game streak in a 106-97 victory on Dec. 4 at Verizon Center.

Arenas, who entered the game third in the NBA with a 29.1 scoring average, is on the best run of his career.

Starting with the Lakers' game on Sunday night, Arenas has scored 60, 23, 30 and 54 points -- an incredible run that averages 41.8 per game.

Arenas had his 25th career 40-point game, and sixth of the season.

His three-point play on a driving leaner from about eight feet out on the right side and ensuing free throw with 21 seconds remaining tied the game at 127 and sent it into overtime.

Caron Butler added 34 points, including eight in overtime, and 10 rebounds as all five Wizards starters scored in double figures.

The Wizards are the only Eastern Conference team to have won in Phoenix this season, and they have the last two victories by an Eastern Conference team here after a 112-111 victory behind Arenas's 41 points on Dec. 23, 2005.

Wizards center Brendan Haywood had a season-high 14 points, and with 12 rebounds had his third double-double of the season and second in as many nights. He had a career-high 14 rebounds Thursday at Sacramento. The Wizards are 5-1 in Haywood's starts this season.

Suns guard Steve Nash, the two-time defending NBA MVP, led the Suns with 42 points and 12 assists, his 13th double-double in the last 16 games.

Shawn Marion had 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns, who lost for the first time since Nov. 18 after a long travel day following three days of hotel food and lost practice time because of a snowstorm that kept them in Denver because the airport was closed.

Stuck in a Denver blizzard since late Tuesday night, the Suns finally got out of Colorado on Friday afternoon, although because of limited access at Denver International Airport they had to bus from Denver to Colorado Springs before boarding a 4:23 p.m. flight that touched down in Phoenix at 5:49 p.m. They arrived at the arena at 6:15 p.m.

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