A Wizards-Suns Clash Takes on a Different Look

By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 26, 2009

There was a time when a Washington Wizards-Phoenix Suns matchup stood out on the NBA calendar as must-see basketball. With players such as Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison of the Wizards and Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion of the Suns, the teams engaged in high-scoring, highly entertaining contests that often came down to the wire.

The most memorable came on Dec. 22, 2006, in Phoenix when the Wizards, behind 54 points from Arenas, prevailed in a 144-139 overtime shootout. Nash had 42 points and 12 assists.

The Suns repaid the favor later that season with a 127-105 win at Verizon Center. For a prolonged stretch of that season, the Suns and Wizards ranked first and second in scoring.

The teams will look drastically different when they meet tonight at Verizon Center.

The Wizards fired Eddie Jordan as coach after a 1-10 start and are without Arenas and starting center Brendan Haywood. The Suns parted ways with Mike D'Antoni after last season when the team traded Marion to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal and then further changed the team this season by trading Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to Charlotte.

The Suns still have Nash and entered yesterday's game at Atlanta with a 23-18 record but had lost five of six, including an ugly defeat at Charlotte on Friday. The Suns had never lost to the Bobcats before.

And, while the Wizards are on pace for the worst season in franchise history, the Suns are not nearly as appealing to watch and no longer appear to be serious contenders after deep playoff runs under D'Antoni in 2005 and 2006.

Up Next Today vs. Phoenix 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet, WTEM-980 Wednesday at Miami 7:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet, WTEM-980

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