SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Even if Ron Artest hadn't taken
himself out of the Kings' lineup with a curious knee problem,
Sacramento probably couldn't have stopped the Washington Wizards'
latest scoring outburst.
Caron Butler had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which
overcame a halftime deficit with a spectacular 44-point third
That's nothing new for the Wizards, who outscored Sacramento
73-60 in the second half while playing only a tight seven-man
rotation. Highlighted by Arenas' 60-point performance in an
overtime win over the Lakers last weekend, the Wizards have scored
at least 106 points in nine consecutive games, winning seven.
Yet Arenas credited their victory to their defense -- which
probably would surprise the sellout crowd that watched Washington
destroy the Kings with sharp shooting.
``We just couldn't stop anybody in the first half,'' Arenas
said. ``We didn't play any defense in that half, and in the second
half we did. ... (Sacramento) is a great team, and they are still
struggling. We just tried to take advantage of it, and that's what
we came in and did.''
Jamison hit four 3-pointers and scored 17 points _ most with a
defender squarely in his face _ in the third quarter alone as the
Wizards made 16 of 22 shots. After Sacramento cut a 17-point
deficit to six with 8 minutes to play, Jamison and Arenas scored 14
of Washington's 19 points down the stretch.
``Antawn Jamison got hot in the second half, and that was the
main difference for us,'' coach Eddie Jordan said. ``If we move the
basketball around, we have enough scorers that can balance the
court and score. ... It was a very spirited halftime tonight, and
we knew that our defense was important going into the third
Meanwhile, the Kings didn't have their best defender _ and
nobody except Artest seemed to know quite why.
Artest participated in the pregame warmup before deciding he
didn't feel strong enough to play _ and then the mercurial forward
watched the game from the training room with ice on his knees,
rather than joining his team at courtside.
``It happens, (and) I've just got to be able to overcome it,''
said Artest, who also thinks he won't play Friday _ even if the
Kings manage to get to snowbound Denver on Friday morning. ``It's
not an all-season thing. I guess it's just being older. I've got to
take care of my body a little better.''
Artest, who mostly has been a model citizen since joining the
Kings in January, hadn't publicly mentioned any previous knee
problems. He was on Sacramento's 12-man list of active players
before the game -- which means he decided not to play less than 30
minutes before tipoff.
Coach Eric Musselman and Artest's teammates were conspicuously
unclear about the reasons for his absence from the lineup, with
Musselman referring all questions about his forward's status to a
training staff that typically doesn't answer such queries.
``It was surprising to me,'' said Corliss Williamson, who scored
17 points for the Kings. ``Things happen, so you just deal with it.
We had a game plan, and when things like that happen at the last
minute, you have to adjust everything.''
The Kings lost for the ninth time in 11 games _ including three
straight home defeats _ to drop four games below .500. Kevin Martin
scored a career-high 40 points for Sacramento, and John Salmons
matched his career high with 23 points while filling in for Artest.
They might not be deep, but the Wizards can score: Arenas and
Jamison hit five 3-pointers apiece, while Brendan Haywood had 12
points and a season-high 14 rebounds.
Jamison, who had several memorable games against Sacramento
during his seasons with the Golden State Warriors, scored 11
straight points during one stretch while the Wizards took the lead
in the third quarter.
Artest missed four games earlier in the season with a sore
back. ... Wizards F Darius Songaila, who broke into the NBA with
the Kings, is inactive with a herniated disc in his back. ... The
Wizards finish up a four-game Western road trip in Phoenix on
Friday night. ... The Wizards snapped a nine-year losing streak at
Arco Arena with a victory over the Kings last season.
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