Wizards follow 'script' in 117-107 win

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON -- Suddenly, it doesn't seem to matter who the Washington Wizards are playing, or where. Suddenly, it doesn't seem to matter if the Wizards fall behind, or when.

It doesn't even matter who the Wizards have on the floor, though it sometimes matters who the opposition is missing.


Taking advantage of Allen Iverson's absence and Willie Green's inexperience down the stretch, the Wizards came from behind in the fourth quarter to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 117-107, at MCI Center last night.

"According to script," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said after yet another comeback win for his now 26-15 team, the fourth straight victory overall, the eighth straight at home and one more than Washington had last season. "Like a good movie, we survived again."


Gilbert Arenas led Washington with 33 points and nine assists, but the comeback was also sparked by the bench, specifically Juan Dixon as well as frontcourt reserves Michael Ruffin and Etan Thomas. Dixon finished with 22 points, while Ruffin and Thomas made huge contributions defensively.

Green led the 76ers (19-22) with a career-high 32 points, but crumbled under the fourth-quarter pressure applied by Dixon and Arenas.

The Wizards, who trailed by seven points early in the quarter and 96-94 with 7:15 left, went on a 21-6 run to pull away.

"I think once we found out that Allen wasn't playing, we got complacent a little bit and went through the motions," said forward Antawn Jamison. 'They came out and played hard. They played like they wanted respect without Allen out there and they definitely showed it."

Iverson, who was injured during a 45-point performance in a home win over Miami Monday night, watched the first half from the bench before retreating to the locker room. Despite a career high in points, Green wasn't happy with the way things turned out.

"We hung in there, but we had a lot of turnovers," said Green, who had four of his team's 20 turnovers that resulted in 24 points for the Wizards.

The Wizards continued to demonstrate that they, too, have something to prove.

After getting off to the team's best start in 26 years with the triumvirate of Arenas, Jamison and Larry Hughes, Washington is showing that it can score -- and win -- without Hughes, who was placed on the injured list yesterday and is out for more than a month with a broken thumb.


After starting the first game for Hughes, Dixon returned to the bench and, with the exception of two games he missed because of the flu, the former Maryland star has found his role as the team's energizer at both ends of the court. Dixon has averaged more than 22 points in the three games.

"I can provide anything," said Dixon, who also had five assists and three steals in the 30 minutes he played last night. 'That is what I did at Maryland. I got steals and played the passing lanes. I played smart."

Because of Thomas and Ruffin, who replaced starters Jared Jeffries and Brendan Haywood early in the third quarter and barely came out, the 76ers stopped taking the ball inside. Because of Dixon, Green could barely get the team in its half-court offense.

"We didn't have to say anything," said Jamison. "We knew what was at stake. We've been in that situation a lot this season. It's pretty much the way we play the game of basketball when we're down. The fourth quarter brings a lot of us and we find a way to get it done."