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Arenas, Wizards sweat out win over Kings

Feb 23, 2007 - 6:57 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- A game that looked like it was going to be a laugher nearly turned into a nightmare for Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards squandered a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Arenas hit three free throws in the final nine seconds and Washington held on for a 109-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Arenas scored 30 of his 43 points in the first half as Washington opened a 57-49 lead.

"I came out on fire. I was feeling hot from the beginning of the game," Arenas said. "I got to the free-throw line a bunch of times and we were sharing the ball really well. Caron (Butler) got two fouls early in the game, so I felt like I had to score a lot of points in the first half."

The Wizards extended the cushion to 95-78 on a pair of free throws by Butler with 8:10 to play before Mike Bibby got hot and shot the Kings right back into the game.

"Somehow, some way, he kept getting open. It was like target practice out there for Mike Bibby," Butler said. "We got to the point where I was guarding him and switched on to Ron Artest during the pick-and-roll. It worked out into our favor the last couple plays."

The point guard scored 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and hit a 3-pointer with 3:27 left to pull Sacramento within 98-97. Brad Miller gave the Kings their first lead since early in the second quarter on a layup 25 seconds later.

The game was back-and-forth down the stretch and Arenas made it 109-106 when he made one of two free throws with 0.8 seconds to play.

Out of timeouts, Sacramento had to throw the inbounds pass nearly the length of the court, and Miller found John Salmons on the right wing. He stepped back and made a 3-pointer to tie the game, but the replay revealed that the shot was a fraction late and the Wizards escaped with the win.

"To tell you the truth, I really didn't know what I did until I saw the replay because it happened so fast," Salmons said. "I was just reacting to the situation. I was pretty sure I was (behind the arc with the backstep) but it went so fast, I kind of went blank.

"I didn't really know what was going on. When I made it, I figured it was a three. Everybody was telling me my foot was behind the line so I was thinking we were going to overtime. And then, they just called the game."

Butler added 25 points for Washington.

"It was a tough game. They played good defense in the last quarter when we had a significant lead," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "Their defense hurt us, threw us off rhythm. We didn't execute well at the end, but we did what we had to do to win."

Ron Artest scored 32 points for the Kings.

"We kept fighting but we shouldn't have got down to that point that we had to come back that much," Bibby said. "We were down 16 and we can't always have a fourth-quarter push like that every game. We've got to play throughout the whole game. We lost, that's all that matters."

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