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Arenas scores 34 as Wizards roll past Nuggets

Dec 14, 2006 - 2:37 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas got off to a tremendous start in his head-to-head duel with Carmelo Anthony.

Arenas scored 34 points, Caron Butler added a season-high 26 and Antawn Jamison 19 as the Washington Wizards won for the eighth time in 11 home games with a 120-91 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Arenas topped the 30-point mark for the fifth consecutive game and ninth time this season. The 6-4 guard is averaging 36.6 points in his last five outings.

"We've been playing great basketball the last seven games," Arenas said. "We're 5-2 and that Houston loss was a tough one. We're getting our swagger at the right time. ... We feel good right now."

"The emphasis was to really keep the pressure on them and to keep the energy up because they came from behind last night to win," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We wanted to make sure to take care of the rebounding situation because they are number one in offensive rebounds."

Arenas scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shots in the first quarter. He made a three-point play and three 3-pointers, including back-to-back baskets from the arc to help give the Wizards a 39-26 advantage after the period.

"Washington is a great offensive team," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "I think they are one of the best offensive teams in the NBA. When you give them the confidence and they have weapons all over the place, it is tough."

Entering as the league's second-leading scorer (30.7) behind Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, Anthony made 11-of-14 shots to score 22 first-half points. He also hit a pair of layups early in the third quarter to help Denver cut the deficit to 65-61.

"I really respect George Karl's teams," Jordan said. "They are never out of it. He is a terrific coach and you need to keep your energy up and keep your execution going to finish the game."

However, Arenas scored six points, Jamison sank two 3-pointers and Brendan Haywood completed a three-point play as Washington widened the margin to 91-76 after three quarters.

Butler, who finished 10-of-20 from the floor, hit a pair a jumpers and Arenas sank five free throws during a 13-0 run that gave the Wizards a 107-80 lead with 5:50 to play.

"Let's keep the momentum going," Butler said. "I think we've turned the corner. Chemistry takes time. We gave it some time, but now we're understanding our roles, finding our niche and we're seeing some success."

Haywood scored 12 points and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds for his first double-double in his first start of the season. DeShawn Stevenson and Jarvis Hayes added 10 points apiece for Washington.

Anthony hit 16-of-27 shots and scored 37 points and Reggie Evans and Marcus Camby added 12 apiece for the Nuggets, who had a three-game road winning streak against the Wizards stopped.

"Yeah, we got embarrassed tonight," Anthony said. "I can say that. We got embarrassed. The Wizards were able to do whatever they wanted to out there. They had every shot that they wanted: jumpshots, layups. There wasn't really nothing that we could do tonight."

"The last couple ballgames have been tough for us," Camby said. "We almost have to ... play near-perfection games when we're on the road. We don't have the confines of being in the altitude of Denver or our home crowd, so we just have to find a way to get off to better starts."

The Nuggets managed just 15 fourth-quarter points and had difficulty finding a second offensive threat to compliment Anthony, who took 27 of Denver's 82 shots.

"If he's taking the majority of the shots, who else is there to shoot the ball?" Camby said. "There (are) no shots to go around, so (Karl) has to do a great job of figuring that out. That's a tough situation that he's in."

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