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Arenas, Wizards hand Indiana 11th straight loss

Mar 15, 2007 - 3:59 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas took it upon himself to end the Washington Wizards' losing streak.

Arenas scored 28 of his 35 points in the second half as Washington handed the Indiana Pacers their 11th straight loss, 112-96, in a matchup of struggling Eastern Conference teams.

Washington's win snaps a three-game losing skid and keeps it percentage points ahead of Toronto for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are a game ahead of Miami for first place in the Southeast Division.

"I got to the free throw line early in the third and that's what helped my stroke," Arenas said. "I wasn't feeling it in the first half, but once I got to the free throw line and got my stroke, I caught fire."

Jermaine O'Neal returned to the Pacers lineup after sitting out the past three games with a strained left knee and scored 24 points.

"We lost. It doesn't matter how I feel." O'Neal said. "Collectively, we've lost 11 straight games, and that's a tough pill to swallow. This may be the toughest stretch in most of our careers."

After a pair of O'Neal free throws brought Indiana to within 88-82 with 8:19 remaining, the Wizards went on a 12-2 run. Antawn Jamison capped the spurt with a layup with 5:54 to go to put the game away. Arenas scored eight points during the run.

"We're just trying to play basketball again," Arenas said. "We had a great December in this league and were No. 1 at one point. We're just trying to get back to the rhythm we had. Right now, we are a dangerous team. We've been beat up and fatigued, but once we get to the playoffs, it's going to be hard to beat us in a seven-game series."

Jamison kept the Wizards in the game early, scoring 17 points in the first half to help forge a 49-46 lead. Jamison finished with 27 points.

"We seemed to find our shots anytime we wanted to," Jamison said. "And we were able to make them."

All-Star forward Caron Butler played only 13 minutes in the game for Washington because of a sore left knee.

"He just didn't feel comfortable," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said about Butler. "We'll see tomorrow."

Danny Granger scored 19 points and Troy Murphy had 17 for the Pacers, who are playing without point guard Jamaal Tinsley because of a sore left leg. Tinsley scored a career-high 37 points in a loss at Minnesota on Tuesday.

Indiana faces Atlanta on Saturday hoping to avoid a 12th straight loss, which would tie a franchise record.

"We're dealing with the same thing every game," O'Neal said. "This is probably going to be my last interview talking about what we need to do. We need to play defense. We need to make shots when it's time to make shots.

"When you look at the games we've lost, there's always a three to four minute span when we give up big numbers, and you can't do that. You have to play defense and you have to play for 48 minutes."

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