WASHINGTON - Like a father hoping to see his son blossom into a man, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan has been waiting patiently for Kwame Brown to mature.
Brown's progress has been slow, but it finally appears to be on target, as was displayed in the Wizards' 94-84 win over the Atlanta Hawks at MCI Center last night.
For a second straight night, Brown was terrific, with 27 points, on 10-for-14 shooting, with 11 rebounds.
Brown, who posted a career-high in scoring (30) and rebounds (19) in Wednesday's win over the Sacramento Kings, went 5-for-5 in the first quarter last night, meaning he has hit 12 straight first-period shots in his past two games.
"I just wanted to come out and not overdo it, not try to score 30 again, but come out and bring the same energy and play hard," Brown said. "They got it to me in the early going. I was able to hit a couple of shots, and get my confidence up, and I kept rolling."
Wizards fans and coaches have been waiting for this kind of success since Brown was taken first overall in the 2001 NBA draft. His inconsistency drove former Washington coach Doug Collins and Michael Jordan, who drafted Brown when he ran the Wizards' front office, to distraction and to criticize the 22-year-old forward.
Eddie Jordan, in his first season here, has adopted a more patient approach, but that hasn't stopped him from being occasionally exasperated with Brown's work habits.
"[Last night's game] was important because it's good for his confidence," said Jordan. "It just depends on how he reacts. Will he take care of himself tonight? Will he think about the game tonight? Will he come to work tomorrow morning with a business and professional approach to get better and not to be satisfied?
"That's the key for Kwame. To stay consistent is an ongoing process. It's not just satisfaction after tonight, partying or forgetting about the game and coming to work tomorrow thinking that it's all good. You have to keep working and getting better."
The Wizards (22-46) seemingly freed from the talk of making a playoff run, are playing better, with a second straight win after seven straight losses.
One of those losses came in Atlanta last week, when the Wizards' defense was so porous that five Hawks players scored 20 or more and the Hawks posted 83 points in the second half alone, on the way to a 138-124 win over Washington.
"We didn't want to come out and play that hard against Sacramento and then wash it away by losing to Atlanta," said Brown. "If we could beat Sacramento at home, we should be able to take care of Atlanta, so we wanted to come out and play as hard as we could."
By contrast, the Wizards played much better defense last night, holding Atlanta (22-47) to a 34.1 percent shooting night, as Stephen Jackson, who had a career-high 42 points last week, scored just 17.
"We shot 26 percent in the second half," said Atlanta coach Terry Stotts. "We are a jump-shooting team, so we need those shots going down. I thought we had a lot of good looks in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. We needed a couple of those shots to go down to get us in the game."
For Washington, Gilbert Arenas notched his third triple double of the season, with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, placing him second in the NBA this year in the category behind New Jersey's Jason Kidd, who has nine triple doubles.
Percentages: FG .341, FT .789. 3-Point Goals: 7-22, .318 (Person 3-4, Terry 2-8, Jackson 2-9, Sura 0-1). Team Rebounds: 7. Team Turnovers: 13 (14 PTS). Blocked Shots: 5 (N'Diaye 3, Diaw 2). Turnovers: 13 (Jackson 4, Sura 3, Terry 2, Collier 2, Diaw, N'Diaye). Steals: 8 (Terry 2, Diaw, Vaughn, Jackson, Person, N'Diaye, Sura). Technical Fouls: None. FGFTReb
Percentages: FG .440, FT .786. 3-Point Goals: 6-21, .286 (Arenas 3-9, Butler 1-2, Stackhouse 1-3, Blake 1-5, Jeffries 0-1, Hayes 0-1). Team Rebounds: 10. Team Turnovers: 18 (18 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Thomas 2, Haywood 2). Turnovers: 16 (Arenas 5, Thomas 3, Haywood 3, Butler 3, Brown, Stackhouse). Steals: 6 (Haywood 2, Blake 2, Butler 2). Technical Fouls: Defensive Three Second, 11:16 fourth; Stackhouse, 9:17 fourth. Atlanta19291620-84
A-13,746 (20,674). T-2:10. Officials-Jess Kersey, Marc Davis, Derek Richardson.
Next for Wizards
Opponent: Miami Heat
Site: MCI Center, Washington
When: Tomorrow, 4 p.m.
TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WTEM (980 AM)