WASHINGTON - They came into MCI Center last night going in different directions, and did little to change that during the 48 minutes they played. The Washington Wizards continue to be one of the most surprising teams in the NBA, and the New Jersey Nets continue to be one of the most depressing.
After spotting their visitors the first seven points, the Wizards took their first lead midway through the opening quarter, took control shortly before halftime, and took the Nets apart in the second half.
The result was a 95-68 victory for Washington and proved that New Jersey's rare victory Tuesday was a reprieve in a miserable season.
It was the fifth win in six games and the largest margin of victory this season for the Wizards, who, at 8-5, are off to the franchise's best start in 20 years.
The Nets, who beat the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night, are 3-12 and counting the days until Jason Kidd's return.
"We just wanted to win this game in the worst way. We see how the Eastern Conference is shaping up early, and everyone has a lot of confidence that we can be one of the top teams in the East," said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, who returned after being hospitalized for nearly a week while being treated for a blood clot in his left leg.
The NBA's top-scoring threesome continued to lead the way for Washington. Point guard Gilbert Arenas scored a season-high 30, shooting guard Larry Hughes finished with 15 points and nine assists and forward Antawn Jamison added 18 points and nine rebounds.
"When you've got three people averaging 20 [points], if one's off, the other two are on," Arenas said. "We just have to watch out when all three of us are going bad."
In the case of the Nets, it only takes one off night - for leading scorer Richard Jefferson - and this dismantled franchise virtually has no chance of winning. New Jersey's ineptitude was summed up by 0-for-6 shooting from the field by Jefferson, who finished with just seven points.
About the only aspect that the teams played to a draw were in ejections: Kwame Brown, who returned to the Wizards after missing the first month due to offseason foot surgery, was thrown out after getting into a verbal confrontation with Jason Collins with 6:48 left in the game.
Before departing, Brown looked fairly sharp. In 14 minutes, he made three of five shots and had two rebounds.
Asked about Brown's season debut, Jordan said of the former No. 1 pick: "It surprised me. He looked sharp at some points of the game and [with] some of his moves. You can see him still have a little bit of a limp, because mentally he is still favoring the leg. I want him to be active. I want him to be our first post-up option, to get his legs under him."
Percentages: FG .312, FT .600. 3-point goals: 1-5, .200 (Planinic 1-1, Buford 0-1, Scalabrine 0-3). Team rebounds: 20. Team turnovers: 15 (19 pts). Blocked shots: 6 (Mourning 3, A.Williams, Best, Krstic). Turnovers: 13 (E.Williams 4, Best 3, Vaughn 3, Jefferson 2, Scalabrine). Steals: 3 (Collins 2, Jefferson). Technical fouls: Coach Frank, 3:11 second; Collins, 6:48 fourth. Ejected: Collins, 6:48 fourth. FGFTReb
Percentages: FG .410, FT .629. 3-point goals: 5-18, .278 (Arenas 3-5, Hughes 1-4, Peeler 1-4, Jeffries 0-1, Hayes 0-2, Jamison 0-2). Team rebounds: 13. Team turnovers: 8 (8 PTS). Blocked shots: 5 (Haywood 4, Ruffin). Turnovers: 8 (Haywood 2, K.Brown, Dixon, Hughes, Arenas, Jamison, Ruffin). Steals: 6 (Hughes 4, Arenas, Peeler). Technical fouls: K.Brown, 6:48 fourth. Ejected: K.Brown, 6:48 fourth. New Jersey16231712-68
A-15,805 (20,674). T-2:28. Officials-Greg Willard, Sean Corbin, Ed Malloy.