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Wizards lose 12 of their last 14 games

1/8/2004

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- David Wesley took advantage of a sluggish
Washington Wizards defense to break out of a shooting slump.

Wesley scored 12 of his 20 points in the first half, including
three 3-pointers, as the Hornets built an early double-digit lead
and were never threatened in a 97-87 victory over the downtrodden
Wizards on Wednesday night.

"It's nice to have a game like this where a team doesn't play
very good defense and you kind of get a rhythm," said Wesley, who
had scored only 13 points and shot 21 percent in his previous two
games. "I didn't feel heavily guarded that much at all tonight. I
got some really good looks."

Baron Davis had 28 points and 10 assists, putting the game out
of reach when he scored all of the Hornets' points during a 9-2
fourth-quarter run. He started it with a 3-pointer, hit a pair of
free throws and converted a pair of acrobatic drives, going behind
his back on his way to the basket on the first.

On the other, he muscled his way along the baseline for a short
floating hook off a double-pump to give the Hornets an 88-65 lead
with about 5:30 left.

"Baron Davis is a type of player we don't have," Wizards coach
Eddie Jordan said. "New Orleans has guys who can carry the load.
We have nobody that can carry us out of bad stretches."

Jamaal Magloire added 10 points and 13 rebounds as the Hornets
sent Washington to its 12th loss in 14 games.

Larry Hughes led Washington with 15 points, but like his entire
team, he struggled to hit shots. Hughes was 6-of-17, while the
Wizards shot only 38.6 percent as a team compared to 45.6 percent
for New Orleans.

Gilbert Arenas, in his fifth game back from the injured list
(strained abdomen), scored 13 but continued to have trouble with
his shot, shooting 4-of-13. Guarded mostly by Davis, he turned the
ball over four times.

Washington came out as if it were still reeling from its 94-72
loss at San Antonio a night earlier, missing its first eight shots,
four of them airballs.

The Wizards' first points came on a 22-foot jump shot by
Christian Laettner with 7:06 remaining in the first quarter, but
soon after, Wesley's 18-foot jumper gave the Hornets a 12-2 lead.

"Sometimes we take a step backward," Jordan said. "In the
long run, we're progressing. It's an oxymoron. We're losing more,
but we're progressing. We see improvement out there with some
individuals. We see our team coming together as far as
camaraderie."

New Orleans led 39-19 after Magloire, while on his back, picked
up a loose ball and zipped a pass to Darrell Armstrong for an open
3-pointer.

Arenas' layup in the final second cut the Hornets' lead to 49-32
at halftime.

Washington never got closer than 10 points in the second half.
Jarvis Hayes (11 points) hit a 3 late in the third quarter to make
it 70-60.

However, Brevin Knight fouled Armstrong on a shot behind the
3-point line on the Hornets' next possession, and Armstrong hit all
three free throws. Armstrong finished with 14 points off the bench.

"It's important to take care of teams like this," said Hornets
forward P.J. Brown. "They are a young team ... trying to find
their identity right now. We never really gave them a chance to get
their confidence up."

Game notes
New Orleans plays 11 of its next 15 at home. "This could
be an important month when we can really make a run and maybe even
take over first place," Wesley said. ... Washington's 14 points in
the first quarter tied a season low in a quarter by a Hornets
opponent. ... Washington has lost seven straight road games. ...
Arenas has shot 25-for-81 (30.9 percent) in five games since
returning from the injured list. ... Davis scored 12 of his points
during an eight-minute span in the fourth quarter.