What the Wizards would love to have as the postseason approaches
is consistent contributions from a fourth source, and Antonio
Daniels is stepping into that role.
Daniels, a reserve guard, scored a season-high 21 points on his
31st birthday, and Washington ran out to big lead en route to a
113-104 victory over Chicago in a rematch of a 2005 first-round
"It is the time of year for our veterans and guys who have been
to the playoffs to step up for us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan
said. "Antonio has done that."
Daniels is averaging 15.5 points the last six games, when
Washington has gone 4-2 and moved past Indiana for fifth in the
Eastern Conference. A lack of playoff experience was considered a
factor in the Wizards' second-round sweep against the Miami Heat
last season, and Daniels has played in 59 postseason games, winning
an NBA title with San Antonio in 1999.
He signed a $30 million, five-year deal to leave Seattle and
join Washington as a free agent in the offseason.
"It takes a while to find your niche. You're pressing. You're
trying to live up to this, trying to live up to that," Daniels
said. "And when you just kind of calm down and be yourself -- it
took me a while just to be myself (with a) new coaching staff, new
teammates, new organization, new system -- once you find a way to
blend in without trying to do too much, everything falls into
Arenas led the way with 29 points and seven assists, Butler
scored 25, and Jamison had 23, giving the Wizards four 20-point
scorers in a game for the first time since Nov. 25 at Detroit.
"We waited 2½ quarters before we got any energy going," Bulls
coach Scott Skiles said. "Once we did, we were able to chip away
at it and give ourselves half a chance."
Washington surpassed its average output of 101.4 points, best in
the East, and reached 110 for the seventh time in nine games. The
latest effort came against a Chicago team that leads the NBA in
field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 42.7. The
Wizards finished at 47 percent Sunday and won for the first time in
three tries this season against the team they eliminated last year.
The Bulls found themselves in plenty of foul trouble, with Tyson
Chandler (three points, zero field-goal attempts) and Kirk Hinrich
fouling out, and Gordon and Nocioni finishing with five apiece.
"We are going out there sometimes and getting fouls because we
are a step behind on some plays," Gordon said.
Chandler went to the sideline after picking up his fifth foul
with a little under 2 minutes left in the third quarter. He argued
the call from his seat and was whistled for a technical foul. Then
the fourth-year center got into a brief exchange with Skiles, who
got up and stood over Chandler, yelling, "I'll say whatever I want
to say," with a few obscenities sprinkled in.
"I can't allow us to be blaming other factors for the way that
we play. There's a very simple thing to do under those situations,
and that's play better," Skiles said. "We've done that a little
bit too much this year: blame the refs, blame other situations, and
that's not a belief system that I can endorse -- ever."
The Bulls missed 10 of their first 14 shots. They went 3-for-9
on free throws in the first quarter. They finished with 19
turnovers, and one led to an electrifying play by Butler. He gave
Washington a 67-40 edge 2 minutes into the third quarter by
stealing the ball near midcourt and going in for a one-handed jam
with the other palm on the back of his head.
Skiles said Hinrich (17 points) might have been bothered by
a sore right elbow. But Hinrich called it "just something minor";
he said a team doctor said it might be a strained ligament. ...
Arenas' 3-pointer in the first period was his 481st with the
Wizards, tying the franchise career record set by Chris Whitney
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