SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Although it's been three years since Darius Songaila played in Sacramento, he still knows how to stir up the crowd at Arco Arena.
"It's nice to come in your old arena and play well," said Songaila, who made his NBA debut with the Kings in 2003-04 season. "Winning is always tough on the road. We play five games, that's a long trip. And we play in places where it's a tough environment [like this]."
The win kept the Wizards in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and marked their second straight victory on the road after dropping the opening game of a five-game West Coast swing.
And it was the unlikely former King playing a key role. Songaila scored 17 points in 18 minutes, connecting on 6 of 8 shots and hit all five free throws attempts.
Cheered when he entered the game in the second quarter, there were only scattered boos when Songaila made consecutive baskets to keep the Wizards ahead in the final minute, then secured the victory with two free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining.
A three-point play by Ron Artest cut the margin to 111-108 with 5 seconds left for the Kings, who dominated the first half and squandered a 16-point lead in the third quarter.
"It's a tough loss in a lot of ways being up by as many as 16 points," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "Just an absolute breakdown in the game plan in the second half in terms of [our] defensive game plan. I thought down the stretch in the second half we just didn't get the job done."
DeShawn Stevenson scored 20 points and made consecutive 3-pointers and followed with another jumper to put the Wizards ahead 106-97 with 3:02 remaining.
Caron Butler had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Wizards, who have won five of six. But his biggest basket was an inspiring dunk over Martin in the third quarter that pulled the Wizards to within a basket and had the Washington bench energized.
"It made everyone on the bench wake up and got people hyped up on the floor," said reserve Roger Mason, who scored all seven of his points during one brief stretch to start the fourth quarter. "We saw their home record, they have a lot of talent on their roster. We knew this was going to be a tough game."
Artest scored 28 points for Sacramento, which saw its four game win streak at home snapped, where they are 22-13 this season. Kevin Martin had 25 points, Francisco Garcia added 16, while both John Salmons and Brad Miller scored 10.
Trailing by 16 points early in the third quarter, the Wizards began cutting into the lead behind the inspiring play of Butler, who had eight points. Washington outscored the Kings 35-21 in the third quarter and built its lead to 11 points early in the fourth before it was Sacramento's turn to play comeback.
A Garcia 3-pointer and some adept free throw shooting resulted in a 13-4 run that pulled the Kings to within 96-94 with 6:09 remaining.
"From a team standpoint that was a selfish half of basketball in the second half," Martin said. "In the first half everyone was moving around, touching the ball and in the second half a lot of people were just standing around. We went away from what got us a 16-point lead."
Both Artest and Miller scored 13 points in the opening half, helping the Kings to a 58-47 lead. Jamison scored 14 points for Washington, which has beaten the Kings six straight times.
Kings center Mikki Moore was ejected after picking up two quick technical fouls while arguing a charging call in the third quarter. Washington coach Eddie Jordan had his first head coaching job with the Kings in 1996-97. Kings starting point guard Beno Udrih didn't play for the fifth time in six games due to a sore back. For the second straight game, Kings rookie Spencer Hawes left the game and didn't return after reinjuring his left ankle.
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