Wizards keep hold on home-court advantage

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Larry Hughes and Gilbert Arenas have
evolved into the NBA's top backcourt pairing and are keeping the
Washington Wizards among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

"We're No. 1. You can put us up against anybody in the
league," Hughes said.

Arenas scored 28 points and Hughes added 25 points Monday night,
leading the Wizards to a 114-16 victory over the Portland Trail

Hughes and Arena make up the league's highest-scoring starting
backcourt at 47.5 points per game.

"No one's matching up with us. We're first and everyone is
fighting to be second and third," Arenas said.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 19 points and eight rebounds, and rookie
Sebastian Telfair scored 17 for the Blazers.

Etan Thomas, starting in place of the injured Brendan Haywood,
had 10 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who maintained a
one-game lead over Chicago in the race for fourth place in the
Eastern Conference.

If Washington can hold onto fourth place, it can ensure
home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Hughes, the sixth-leading scorer in the NBA at 25.5 points, and
Arenas, averaging 22.0 points, have had even more responsibility
lately, picking up the slack for the short-handed Wizards.

Washington is without Haywood (fractured thumb) for at least two
weeks. Third-leading scorer and leading rebounder Antawn Jamison
has missed eight straight games with tendinitis in his right knee,
and is not expected back for another week.

Arenas logged extra minutes when Hughes missed 20 games with a
fractured thumb. Hughes has been sensational since returning Feb.

The Blazers committed 15 turnovers in the first three quarters,
and the youthful lineup couldn't overcome the mistakes.

Reserve Richie Frahm had 16 points in 18 minutes for Portland,
which had seven players in double figures. Darius Miles had 13 of
his 15 points in the first half.

Juan Dixon had 13 points in a reserve role and Kwame Brown
finished with 12 points and eight assists.

Portland is also slowed by injuries. Derek Anderson (back) and
Theo Ratliff (shoulder) are out, and Zach Randolph and Nick Van
Exel have knee injuries and aren't expected back this season.

That has led to increased playing time for youngsters Telfair,
Travis Outlaw, Viktor Khryapa and Frahm since the Blazers fired
coach Maurice Cheeks on March 2.

Portland has gone 2-12 under interim coach Kevin Pritchard, and
sloppy play and defensive lapses by the young Blazers helped the
Wizards (39-30) maintain a double-digit advantage throughout the
second half.

Portland shot 65 percent in the first quarter and led 28-24. But
turnovers and missed defensive assignments led to second-chance
looks and easy baskets for Washington, which went on a 12-0 run to
take a 47-37 lead.

"Something we've got to work on together," Telfair said. "You
spend so much energy on offense and you want to go out and give the
same energy on defense."

The Blazers (24-45), who missed the playoffs last season after
22 consecutive appearances, were officially eliminated from
contention with the loss.

Washington, which plays eight of its next 12 games at home,
completed its first winning Western Conference road trip since
1999-2000, winning three of five games.

"I hope our fans back in D.C. realize we are starting a new era
in Washington," coach Eddie Jordan said.

Game notes
The Wizards have won three of their last four against
Portland and swept the season series for the first time since
1996-97. ... ...Frahm had his highest scoring game for the Trail
Blazers. ... Telfair went down hard and left the game in the last
minute after catching Abdur-Rahim's elbow to the face. He didn't
return, but said after the game that he was OK.