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Arenas scores 35 for Wizards

WASHINGTON (AP) -- At 20 games under .500, and with Jerry
Stackhouse on indefinite leave, it might seem foolhardy for the
Washington Wizards to cling to the remote notion of making the

But if Gilbert Arenas keeps playing like this, coach Eddie
Jordan can keep glancing at the standings with some degree of hope.

Arenas played all 53 minutes and scored eight of his 35 points
in overtime Monday night, and the Wizards recovered after blowing a
21-point second-half lead to beat the New Orleans Hornets 111-106.

The victory moved the Wizards within five games of the final
playoff spot in the woeful Eastern Conference, where the mediocre
run rampant.

"It was a gutsy performance. It was a playoff atmosphere,"
Jordan said. "Whether we get there remains to be seen, but we had
a taste of it tonight, and Gilbert was the guy that carried us from
the beginning to the end."

To the Wizards' credit, their young players didn't fold after a
second-half collapse. After scoring just 10 points in the fourth
quarter, Washington got 15 in overtime, including a pair of
3-pointers and a pair of free throws from Arenas.

"He's focused in," Jordan said. "He's determined to be a good
player, and it pretty much stems from him wanting to be a good
point guard, helping his teammates first, and knowing sometimes
that greed is good in his role."

Jarvis Hayes, starting for Stackhouse, added 16 points for the
Wizards, who shot 52 percent and have won three of four.

Arenas, flourishing since his 3{-quarter shooting boycott last
week, made 11 of 24 shots and had 10 assists and four steals. He is
averaging 30.3 points in three games since declining to shoot for
most of a game at Toronto, a response to teammate Kwame Brown's
complaints that the team was becoming too selfish.

"I guess I'm finding my rhythm now," Arenas said.

Baron Davis scored 18 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and
overtime, and added 11 assists for the Hornets. Jamal Mashburn
scored 28 points, and Jamaal Magloire had 18 points and 14 rebounds
before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. New Orleans has lost
four straight road games.

"We got ourselves in a big hole, used a lot of energy to get
back in the game, and just came up short," guard David Wesley
said. "We scored enough points to win, but we gave up 58 points in
a half to almost the worst team in the league."

The Hornets rallied by turning up the defense in the second
half. Seventeen of the Wizards' 21 turnovers came in the second
half, and New Orleans outscored Washington 24-10 in the fourth

Arenas' second 3-pointer of overtime broke a 102-102 tie. Brown
made it a five-point lead with a basket after he blocked a shot by
P.J. Brown.

This was Washington's first game since Stackhouse unilaterally
declared himself out for the season, a decision overruled by
Wizards management after he was re-examined Monday.

Stackhouse watched the game on the bench in street clothes, but
the Wizards said his latest pain was due to tendinitis in both
ankles and that there was no new damage in his surgically repaired
right knee. Stackhouse was not placed on the injured list, and
general manager Ernie Grunfeld said Stackhouse will undergo therapy
and "we'll see how he is in a few days."

"I think that's probably the shortest retirement ever,"
Stackhouse said.

Game notes
The Wizards released guard Brevin Knight, who averaged 4.3
points in 32 games this season. ... Arenas became the first Wizards
player to score 30 points back-to-back since Michael Jordan last
season. Jordan had 43 against New Jersey on Feb. 21 and 30 against
Dallas two days later. ... Hornets forward Robert Traylor returned
to the team after missing two games due to personal reasons. ...
Mashburn has scored 20 points in eight straight games.

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