for this game

Wizards let an opportunity slip away

Mar 8, 2007 - 4:44 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- A day after a convincing win over the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors, the Washington Wizards turned in a lethargic effort against the last-place Atlanta Hawks.

Facing a team that was missing three starters, including All-Star Joe Johnson, due to injury, the Wizards could not find their legs in the second day of back-to-backs and fell to the Hawks, 100-97.

The Hawks, who entered riding a six-game losing streak, got a spirited effort from center Zaza Pachulia, who finished with a career-high 27 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Anthony Johnson, starting in the backcourt for the injured Joe Johnson, finished with 19 points.

"Anthony, since we've gotten him (from Dallas last month), he's doing exactly what we've expected him to do, what we thought he could do," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said about Anthony Johnson. "He's played enough basketball games ... to where he's run teams, off the bench, as a starter. And he's doing the same thing for us, and we need that right now."

Joe Johnson suffered a right calf contusion after running into teammate Esteban Batista during Monday's loss at Miami.

Playing in just their third game back from injury, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison both started off strong, scoring 12 points each in the first half as Washington built a 52-44 halftime lead.

However, consecutive games and the time off seemed to catch up to the Wizards in the second half, as Butler and Jamison was able to match their first-half production, finishing with 22 and 19 points, respectively.

"We did a good job of taking the lead, but we didn't take advantage of the way they were playing in the first half," Jamison said. "In the second half, they did a tremendous job of playing defense and getting to the line. The momentum swung their way and they took advantage of it. Tonight they were more dangerous, considering who wasn't playing."

Anthony Johnson scored nine points during a 21-7 run over the last seven minutes of the third quarter as the Hawks took the lead for good, 71-67. Atlanta led by as many as 11 points with 1:36 left in the game.

"We had 20 more possessions than them, but they just got to the free-throw line more than us," Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas said. "Most of the game was even, they just got more hustle plays and extra rebounds at the end of the game to pull it out."

Arenas finished the game with 28 points to lead Washington.

The Wizards turned the ball over 21 times and sent the Hawks to the free-throw line 42 times. Atlanta converted 36-of-42.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Wizards.

"I thought they played marvelous," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "Pachulia came up big and I think (Anthony) Johnson controlled the tempo for them. They played a very good game. ... They came out ready and took the game from us. We just couldn't get over that 10-point deficit in the second half."

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