Balanced Wizards top KingsDec 16, 2007 - 5:03 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON (Ticker) - The balanced Washington Wizards had five players score in double figures for a sixth consecutive game in a 92-79 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
It was the first time in 12 years the Wizards have had such a streak and they accomplished the feat with their third starting point guard of the season, rookie Nick Young, who made his first NBA start in place of injured Antonio Daniels.
DeShawn Stevenson led Washington to its fourth straight victory with 19 points. Center Brendan Haywood notched his 10th double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Reserve guard Roger Mason had 13 points, and Caron Butler added 12.
Antawn Jamison just missed posting his career-best ninth consecutive double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds. The last Wizards player to accomplish that feat was Chris Webber, who did it from March 20 through April 6, 1997. The following season, the Wizards coincidentally traded Webber to Sacramento for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe.
Daniels, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on Thursday during a 104-91 victory in Miami, joined Gilbert Arenas on the bench. Arenas has been out since November 17 recovering from knee surgery and is not expected to return until March, at the earliest.
Daniels, who guided the Wizards to a 9-5 record and averaged 11.0 points, 6.6 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals while starting in Arenas' spot, is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.
"It is definitely tough without Antonio because he is our floor general," Haywood said. "He creates a lot of opportunities for his teammates. DeShawn did a very good job tonight with seven assists. We keep losing people, but we keep rolling."
That's because virtually unknown players keep stepping up.
"I have been waiting for the opportunity," said Mason, a Washington native and University of Virginia product who played two seasons in Israel before signing with the Wizards as a free agent. "I'm excited about playing more minutes. With Antonio out, I have to become more of a leader."
Stevenson echoed that sentiment.
"I don't get a lot of shots with Gilbert around," Stevenson said. "If they pass it, I'm going to shoot it. I think the ball movement is great. Everybody is getting shots. Roger Mason is getting shots, Caron is doing a great job passing.
"It's the same role I had last year when Gil got hurt and Caron got hurt in the playoffs. I've been in the situation before. But we have Caron now, and we have Antawn now, so we've still got scoring. I'm going to go out there and pick and choose my shots. I'm going to shoot it if I'm open and pass it if I'm not. If they sit back and let me shoot wide-open threes, I'll take them."
Stevenson's third 3-pointer of the third quarter gave the Wizards a 74-63 lead.
"We kept trying to play hard, but it was one of those nights where they just kept knocking down shots," said Ron Artest, who had 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting for the Kings. "Guys that we thought wasn't going to knock down shots were knocking down shots. I don't know what the score was, but _ we got 79? Gosh, we've got to play better."
The Kings' 79 points was a season-low.
"Stevenson played great," Artest said. "I didn't think he would play that well today, but he has been shooting really well so we kind of should have expected that. They played well together tonight. They beat us fair and square."
Young had seven points, one rebound and one assist in 14 minutes for Washington.
"It was definitely a good opportunity for him to come in and be effective and learn with some veteran guys out there," Jamison said. "It's a unique situation because when you think of a rookie coming into a certain situation with a team that's either not playing well or struggling, but he's got a situation with some good veterans who are going to point him in the right direction and we're winning basketball games."
The Wizards also are without roster players Etan Thomas, who has missed the entire season with a heart ailment, and Oleksiy Pecherov, who is out with a right ankle hairline fracture. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said before the game the time has come to add to the roster.
"In the next two or three days, we will look around to see if we can bring someone in to help us," Grunfeld said. "It is very likely we will. We have some names on our short list. In all likelihood, we will bring someone in. This will probably be a free-agent type of player from the NBA Developmental League, CBA or someone who isn't currently on an NBA roster."
Despite playing shorthanded, the Wizards (13-10) climbed to three games above the .500 mark for the first time since they were 39-36 last season. Since getting off to an 0-5 start, the Wizards have won 13 of 18 games. Only the Boston Celtics, at 14-2, have a better record in the Eastern Conference during that span.
"It's an attest to us trusting the guys coming off the bench and attest to the guys coming in stepping up," Jamison said. "As long it's a week or two with Antonio Daniels, I think we'll be fine. You only need like an eight-man rotation anyway, and we've got eight or nine, so we've just got to continue to work together and believe that what we have now is enough. I think as a team we feel that we still have enough to be competitive and win our fair share of games."
It does, however, help to have enough healthy players to run 5-on-5 in practice.
"That's the one downfall," Jamison said. "Not being able to get up and down with 10 guys, but there's still other things you can do - four-on-four - but we need to be a little more crisp on the offensive end."
Washington, which led the entire game, has won five straight against Sacramento, which last defeated the Wizards on February 27, 2005 at Verizon Center.
"They're probably the most shorthanded team in the league right now," said Brad Miller, who led Sacramento with 21 points and nine rebounds. "I think they only had eight players suited up, so they had to rely on playing together and distributing the ball and sharing the ball, and that's what they're doing a good job of.
"They hit shots and just really packed it in on us and we didn't share the ball like we do when we win games. That's usually what gets us every time. We just got into that little lull that we get into sometimes." The Kings, who got their first road win of the season Friday in Philadelphia, never seriously threatened in this one.
"We played a very good first half, down by one on the road in a back-to-back game, I think we put ourselves in position in the second half to win the game," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "But 28 points for them in the third quarter and 16 for us. And when it's all said and done, they got 18 points off the turnovers. When you're on the road and you make that many turnovers, you should not win."
WASHINGTON 92 FINAL
Dec 15 9:24 PM
WASHINGTON 80 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 15 8:48 PM
WASHINGTON 52 HALFTIME
Dec 15 8:05 PM
WASHINGTON 33 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 15 7:35 PM
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