Wizards 125, Hornets 103

Saturday, March 17th 2007, 9:52 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) It's been awhile since the Washington Wizards won a game without Caron Butler. It's been even longer since an NBA player had two 4-point plays in the same game.

And how long has it been since a cheerleader tore her ACL trying to dunk? Who knows?

Gilbert Arenas took care of the first two items on that list Saturday night, but only after a quick recovery from a trans-Atlantic flight to experience the joy of fatherhood. Arenas scored 30 points -- including 4-at-a-time twice -- to lead the Wizards to a 125-103 victory over the tired and slumping New Orleans Hornets.

Arenas missed practice Friday to fly to Oakland to witness the birth of his first son, Alijah Amani Arenas. He returned on the redeye early Saturday and slept much of the day.

"I was tired, crazy, excited all in one," Arenas said. "I tried to make sure I stayed off my feet, but to see my son being born, that was just exciting. I'm king of the castle now."

The king went 10-18 from the field, 6-6 from the free-throw line and had 11 assists. He was also fouled by Marc Jackson while hitting a 3-pointer late in the 3rd quarter and by Bobby Jackson while making a 3 early in the 4th. He converted the free throw each time, making him the first player to have two 4-point plays in the same game since Tracy McGrady did it for Orlando against Memphis on Nov. 12, 2003.

"That's what I do. I do things like that," Arenas said. "Right now I'm on top of the charts."

That bit of boastfulness was too much for teammate Antonio Daniels, who interrupted by shouting incredulously: "Did you just say, 'That's what I do?' That's what I do!"

"I'm allowed to say that," said Arenas, exercising his usual Gilbertology. "This is my interview."

What Arenas and his teammates hadn't done recently is win without Butler. They had lost eight straight without their All-Star forward -- five when he had a sprained thumb late last season and three when he had back spasms a few weeks ago. His latest ailment, a bruised knee, didn't derail the Wizards this time as they shot a season-high 58% from the field to move one-half game ahead of Miami atop the Southeast Division.

Butler will miss all of the upcoming five-game road trip, but the Wizards can live without him if they keep getting contributions from everyone -- the entire active roster had scored by the end of the 3rd quarter -- and if they keep encountering struggling teams like the Hornets.

"We had 12 guys play the right way, play very well for 48 minutes," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "We shared the ball well, the bench did a great job, and we just caught a team that was coming off an emotional win last night. We got them on the back-to-back, and our focus was to keep pushing, keep pushing and make them play on their heels a little bit."

New Orleans, trying to stay in contention for a playoff berth in the Western Conference, lost for the seventh time in eight games. The Hornets entered the game leading the league in rebounding, but they grabbed only 32 boards to the Wizards' 43. Chris Paul, playing the second game of a back-to-back for the first time since he was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left foot, led his team with 21 points and 8 assists in 32 minutes.

"We got our butt kicked. I just thought our guys were tired," New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. "Every year when you're playing 82 games, you're going to lay an egg. Tonight was one of those nights where we laid a big-time egg."

New Orleans' only lead was 2-0. The Wizards shot 68% in the 1st quarter to take a 39-30 lead and were up by 10 both at halftime and at the end of the third. They put the game away with a 22-4 run to open the 4th, allowing Arenas to sit for good with 5:23 left in the game.

In fact, the only reason to watch the 4th quarter was to see a stunt involving the Wizards dance team during a timeout. The girls attempted to dunk the ball after bouncing on a mini-trampoline. One dancer made her dunk and hung on the rim -- then landed awkwardly and was taken to the hospital with a torn ACL.

Antawn Jamison added 21 points for the Wizards, who have won two straight following a three-game skid that had put their division lead in jeopardy. DeShawn Stevenson scored 18 points, and Darius Songaila matched his season-high with 12.

David West had 17 points and 8 rebounds for the Hornets.