Slumping Nets fall to Washington

February 20, 2009 9:34:41 PM PST
After a miserable opening two-thirds of the season, the Washington Wizards are starting to realize their strength is inside and not shooting jumpers. Antawn Jamison had 28 points and 12 rebounds and the Wizards outscored the slumping New Jersey Nets 60-36 in the paint in posting a 107-96 victory that gave them consecutive wins for only the second time this season.

"When we start games we always start shooting jumpers and try to get into a rhythm that way," Jamison said. "Tonight we just wanted to do a better job of driving the ball and getting a lot of attempts in the paint."

Washington coach Ed Tapscott made Jamison watch the opening 10 minutes of a Wizards' scrimmage on Thursday just so he could get a first-hand view of the way Washington was playing.

The scrimmage started out with 10 straight jumpers and Jamison was asked to talk to his teammates about it. They listened, particularly when Jamison explained that the team has missed its best shooter all season - Gilbert Arenas.

"We have guys who can pretty much get it to the paint, and if not create shoots for themselves, then shots for the other guys," Jamison said. "Why not use one of our strengths? For some reason it does not register. We like to start the game by shooting jumpers. That's OK if you got it going. We have to attack early."

Washington, which snapped a 13-game losing streak against Eastern Conference opponents, broke the game by dominating inside in the third quarter. It outrebounded New Jersey 21-6 in the quarter and got 16 of its 35 points on second-chance efforts.

"Some times we get jump shot happy," said point guard Mike James, who had 10 of his 19 points in the big third quarter.

"Tonight we played inside out and it worked. We played hard for 48 minutes."

Caron Butler added 19 points as the Wizards (13-42) matched their season-high winning streak and handed the Nets their fifth straight loss. Dominic McGuire scored all 11 of his points in the second half for Washington.

Devin Harris had 26 points and 10 assists in the Nets' first game since standing pat at the trading deadline on Thursday. Vince Carter, who was the focal point of 11 trade offers sent New Jersey's way, added 17 points on 6-for-17 shooting.

"I'm just doing poor job because I'm not getting these guys to play and compete as hard as we need to," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "I am going to figure it out."

Trailing 52-49, James got Washington going with a three-point play. McGuire quickly added two baskets off rebounds, Butler had a three-point play off another offensive rebound.

Before the period ended, James added two more layups and a 3-pointer as the shot clock was sounding. Jamison also chipped in with a basket and a three-point play.

Trailing 84-67 early in the fourth quarter, the Nets went on a 13-1 run and drew to within 85-80 on a 3-pointer by Keyon Dooling with 6:19 to play.

McGuire then got Washington going again by banking in a 12-footer off a spin move.

"C.B. (Butler) made a great pass," McGuire said. "I had Keyon Dooling on me, so I wanted to take him low. I had a smaller guy and I wanted to use my size against him."

McGuire later added a free throw and pushed regained command when Jamison scored a basket and James followed with two more as the Wizards won on the road for only the fourth time in 27 games this season.

"We didn't play with a lot of energy," Harris said. "We got our butts kicked inside, rebounding and giving up a lot of second-chance points. We just need everybody to hold their own and do what they do."

Notes: ...Nets F Jarvis Hayes expects to be sidelined a week with partially torn ligaments in his left thumb. ...James scored a third-quarter layup scored after referee Tony Brown called a defensive 3-seconds technical foul against the Nets. Brown waived off the technical and let the basket stand. ...The teams split four games this season. ...The Wizards are now 2-19 vs. the East. ...The 35 points in the third quarter matched the Wizards' season high for that quarter. ...Washington outrebounded New Jersey 54-41.