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Hot-shooting Wizards race past tired Hornets

Mar 18, 2007 - 3:19 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Gilbert Arenas made it back from the West Coast and the Washington Wizards did not allow the New Orleans Hornets to make another comeback.

Arenas had 30 points and 11 assists and the Wizards used a blistering start for a 125-103 victory over the fatigued Hornets for their second straight win.

Antawn Jamison scored 21 points for Washington, which shot a sizzling 61 percent (27-of-44) from the field in the first half as it raced to a 65-55 lead and never looked back.

Arenas flew to Oakland, California on Friday for the birth of his second child. He returned early Saturday morning and was remarkably well-rested.

"That was tiring, crazy, exciting, all in one," he said. "I tried to make sure I stayed off my feet. I was so excited to see my son being born. It was just exciting. "I tried to make sure I got back at a reasonable time to make sure I still went through my ritual. I got here (at) six in the morning and I missed shootaround and slept all day, made sure I had food in my system, and came out ready to go."

The Wizards took advantage of the Hornets, who overcame an 18-point deficit for a 92-90 win at New York on Friday night and clearly did not have enough energy to stage another rally. New Orleans surrendered a season high and lost for the seventh time in eight games.

"We caught a team that had an emotional win last night," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "They are a good team with a good coaching staff, and we got them on a back-to-back."

"I thought our guys were tired," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "Traveling to New York and then arriving here at 3:30 in the morning might have caught up to us."

Washington (36-28) moved one-half game ahead of Miami atop the Southeast Division. New Orleans (29-37) fell 1 1/2 games behind Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Washington got a team effort in picking up the slack for All-Star forward Caron Butler, who did not play due to a left knee injury suffered in Wednesday's win over Indiana and will be out at least a week.

"We're all professional here, and we know he's going to be out for a while," said Arenas, who had two four-point plays. "Other people just got to step up."

Jamison scored 13 points and Arenas 11 with five assists in the first quarter as the Wizards made 17-of-25 shots and bolted to a 39-26 lead.

The Hornets pulled within 10 points at halftime and still were within 95-85 entering the final period. But Washington's Darius Songaila scored eight points in a 22-4 burst, including a tip-in that capped it at 117-89 midway through the quarter.

DeShawn Stevenson scored 18 points and Songaila added 12 for the Wizards, who shot 58 percent (52-of-89) and improved to 14-0 when making at least half their shots. Washington eclipsed 120 points for the eighth time this season.

"Darius Songaila was really good," Jordan said.

"I feel better than I did before. But I wish I felt 100 percent," said Songaila, who missed a large chunk of the season due to back surgery. "Timing, the feel for the basketball, the feel for the teammates - all come with the repetition of playing in practice and playing the game. The more you play, the better you feel, but I'm not 100 percent."

Chris Paul had 21 points and eight assists and David West scored 17 points for the Hornets, who shot 49 percent (39-of-80) but were beaten on the boards, 43-32.

"We have done a great job of fighting (through injuries) and we are still in the playoff hunt," Paul said. "Making the playoffs is the only thing on my mind right now."

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