In front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center, Gilbert Arenas racked up another 36 points making it five straight 30 point games in a row and a fifth straight win in a row 112-111 over the Magic, accomplishing something that Moses Malone, Bernard King, Chris Webber and even Michael Jordan couldn’t do: lead the Washington basketball franchise in first place after Christmas.
Looking at these two teams stats, there records looked evenly matched leading most to believe this game would be a tight battle. Following the jump ball start of the game, Hedo Turkoglu who has averaged just 10 points a game hit 3 for 3 from 3 pt range to put the magic 11-7 in the first period with 7 minutes left to play. He would end up with a season high 20 pts all scored in the first half. Nonetheless, his accuracy out of the gates kept the Wizards on their toes from the very beginning.
Gilbert Arenas scored 14 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter, and had nine rebounds and seven assists. Antawn Jamison put up 25 points and 11 rebounds along with Deshawn Stevenson posting up 11 points against his old team. To beat them, going for first place, that’s two daggers in one day, said Stevenson, who left Orlando on sour terms last summer.
All of Arenas points were necessary because the Magic kept the entire game so close. Jameer Nelson penetrated the lane to give Orlando a 108-107 lead with just 2:24 left to play in the game. Jamison was fouled and made one of two free throws to tie the game setting up a nail biter scenario 108-108 with 1:48 to go.
Howard, Dooling would both miss relatively easy look shots for the Magic only to watch Butler sink a 16 footer from the baseline helping Washington take the lead to 110-108 Turkoglu who couldn’t score a point in the second half missed a jumper, Jamison was fouled and made both free throws to make the lead 4 for the Wiz with just 3.3 seconds left.
Dooling would go on to score one more bucket to bring the Magic within 1 of the Wizards at 111-112. Butler would then get fouled and miss both free throws, Honestly, I just mentally messed up, Butler said. I just lost focus for a minute. That’s something that will never happen again.
With just 3 seconds left Dooling put up one last jump shot that never had a chance clinching the win for the Wizards and putting them in First place in the Southeast Division.
With such solid play on behalf of the entire Wizards team especially Arenas, Butler, Stevenson and Jamison it wasn’t difficult for the Magic to explain why the Wizards are on top. Well, they’ve got a little bird down there named Gilbert Arenas, who’s not too bad Says Dooling he’s one of those guys who’s special. He’ll go down in history as being one of the greatest. It’s near impossible to guard him.