Wizards dig deep, catch Kings napping to stage 114-108 upset

Brown's 30 lead rebound from Tuesday's loss in OT

March 18, 2004|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - With a tough overtime loss on Tuesday and with three players playing at least 44 minutes last night, the Washington Wizards are due for a long sleep.

It will likely be a restful sleep, after a dazzling 114-108 win over the Sacramento Kings before a skeptical, then delirious, crowd of 15,255 at MCI Center last night.

The Wizards (21-46) drew from every corner possible to get the most improbable of wins in an increasingly improbable season, but, in the end, they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the NBA this year.

"A lot of it was a factor from [Tuesday] night," Washington forward Jerry Stackhouse said in reference to the four-point defeat in New York. "You have to have situations like last night to get better. I've said it may be good to have those situations. That was close enough for us to remember and try to correct them [last night]. I thought everyone played with a lot of confidence, even at the end of the game, in the real clutch of the game. Everyone made plays."

No one made bigger plays than third-year forward Kwame Brown, who had 30 points and 19 rebounds in the full 48 minutes - all career highs.

"We knew that they [the Kings] would underestimate us," said Brown. "The loss to New York made everybody hungry. ... We played hard and with a team that underestimated us, we got the outcome, which was a win."

Brown wasn't alone. Gilbert Arenas, who also played the full 48 minutes, had 27 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and a career-high eight steals.

And Stackhouse, who came off the bench for a second straight night, had 21 points and seven assists, but the unsung hero might have been little-used reserve Mitchell Butler.

Butler, who started at shooting guard with both Larry Hughes and Juan Dixon (Maryland) out injured, had 13 points in 44 minutes, all the while playing exceptional defense after playing 48 minutes Tuesday.

"I need a nap," Butler said with a laugh. "It means a lot. We played well against the Knicks and we should have had that win. To follow it up on a back-to-back night, playing against probably the best team in the league, was a real big confidence booster for us. Hopefully, we can take this and build on it."

On the longest losing streak of the season (seven games) and facing the Kings (with NBA's second-best record at 49-19), the Wizards seemed a candidate to get run out of MCI Center.

Instead, the Wizards took Sacramento's best shots and answered every one of them, using a 16-8 run to wrest the lead in the third period - usually their worst quarter - then closing the game on a 9-5 run in the final two minutes after the Kings had narrowed an nine-point deficit to two. Still, Washington pulled it out, and Sacramento still clinched a playoff spot when Portland and Utah lost.

"Watching that Nets-Sacramento game ... I was wondering if we could put the same type of defense on that the Nets had, and I said I don't know if we can come that close, but we did," said Jordan.

Next for Wizards

Opponent: Atlanta Hawks

Site: MCI Center, Washington

When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WTEM (980 AM)

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