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Washington shoots 63.1 percent in first half

1/25/2004

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Now that's more like it, Kwame.

After 2{ seasons of fighting the label of No. 1 overall bust,
Kwame Brown is having the best stretch of games in his NBA career.
He's perhaps never been better than he was Saturday night, when he
scored a career-high 25 points and had nine rebounds in the
Washington Wizards' 107-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

"It's coming together," said Brown, the top pick straight out
of high school in the 2001 draft. "I'm a lot more comfortable. Not
as jittery, taking my shots when I have it."

Brown went 8-for-12 from the field, 9-for-10 from the free throw
line, had three blocks and no turnovers, getting the better in a
matchup against fellow college-skippers Jermaine O'Neal and Al
Harrington. Brown is averaging 13 points and 7.8 rebounds over his
last 11 games, well above his averages of 6.2 points and 4.6
rebounds from his first two seasons.

"Let's see some consistency," Washington coach Eddie Jordan
said. "We're not going to gloat. We love what happened tonight.
We're not going to say he's arrived, because it's all about
consistency."

Rookie Steve Blake added 18 points -- his second career-high in
as many nights -- and made 12 of 13 free throws for the Wizards, who
never trailed and have won three of four. Washington also shot 63
percent in the first half and committed a season-low seven
turnovers.

"That's incredible. That's unheard of for us," Jordan said.
"We've got to watch the tape and see if they miscounted."

Jordan was almost in disbelief over beating one of the top teams
in the Eastern Conference.

"It's just a freak of the NBA season," he said. "It just
happened tonight for us."

Harrington scored 21 points for the Pacers, who were done in by
poor outside shooting as they lost their second game in as many
nights following a five-game winning streak. Indiana was 1-for-14
from 3-point range at one point in the fourth quarter and finished
5-for-22.

"Defensively we were terrible," said Reggie Miller, who scored
13 points. "You don't want to start a trend when you give up 100
points to any team -- no matter if it's the Lakers or the Wizards."

The Wizards made 12 of 17 shots in the second quarter. The
offense, which Jordan has had to simplify because of injuries,
looked as good as it has all season. Brevin Knight played the point
and had four assists, shooting guard Juan Dixon made all three of
his shots, and Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas and Brown rotated
inside to make seven of nine shots.

Despite the solid first half, the Wizards' lead was just 57-50.
They failed to capitalize in the third quarter when the Pacers went
4:25 without scoring -- including three missed 3-pointers by Jamaal
Tinsley. Washington made just four field goals in the third
quarter, and the lead stayed in single digits until Blake made two
3-pointers and two free throws to put the Wizards up by 12 early in
the fourth.

The Pacers broke out of their 1-for-14 3-point slump when
Harrington and Miller each hit from long range. Harrington made
another 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four, but Brown hit a
jumper to start a 6-0 run. The Pacers didn't get closer than six
the rest of the way.

Game notes
Wizards forward Jared Jeffries sprained his right ankle in
the fourth quarter and did not return. ... Washington guard Larry
Hughes got limited playing time in the second half. "Knee, elbow,
ankles -- he's really taking a beating," Jordan said. ... Indiana's
Ron Artest played despite a sore left thumb. His hand was wrapped,
and he mishandled two passes in the first quarter, but he finished
with 15 points and seven assists. ... Wizards forward Christian
Laettner was called from a flagrant foul for leveling Harrington
with a right elbow while holding the ball in the third period.
Harrington got a technical for confronting Laettner after the foul.
Laettner was playing just his second game since returning from a
five-game suspension for violating the NBA's drug policy. ...
Indiana center Scot Pollard missed his second straight game with
the flu. Coach Rick Carlisle said Pollard is expected to return to
practice Monday. ... The Wizards began a seven-game homestand. ...
Thomas started for Jeffries, giving Washington its 13th different
starting lineup of the season. ... The Pacers allowed 100 points
for only the fourth time this season.