Lowly Wizards stung by Hornets in finale

Washington routed, 94-78, as team misses playoffs for seventh season in row

Pro Basketball

April 15, 2004|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - If the Washington Wizards were lucky, some enterprising Kreskin or David Blaine would pull one of those mass hypnosis deals and try to make the public forget that this season ever happened.

Within minutes of last night's season-ending 94-78 loss to the New Orleans Hornets at MCI Center, the Wizards tried to convince themselves that injuries and inconsistencies and petty squabbles that marked the year were just a mirage.

"It is really hard to judge our team," said Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas. "We have a talented team. We have people who can score, and people who can rebound. We have every option a basketball team needs. We just have to play together and just be on the floor at the same time."

But because the Wizards had no luck this year, everyone knows the season was another lost cause, and there's not a magician on the planet that can change that fact.

The Wizards (25-57), who missed the playoffs for a seventh straight season, completed their 14th losing season since 1988-89. That ties Washington with the Los Angeles Clippers and the NFL's Arizona Cardinals for futility in that 16-season span.

Washington dropped its 34th game by 10 points or more.

The entire day took on the aura of the last day of school, as forward Christian Laettner, who has been on the injured list in the past two weeks, was seen clearing out his locker and carting his belongings out in a garbage bag before the game.

Meanwhile, Arenas, who was late to yesterday's morning shootaround and was kept out of the starting lineup, commandeered a walkie-talkie from a Wizards employee and proceeded to make mischief on the radio, before team president Susan O'Malley warned the staff that he had the radio.

Arenas, the team's marquee free-agent signee in the offseason, was benched in the final road game Monday in Detroit for missing the team plane, and ended the season in coach Eddie Jordan's doghouse.

"I've just been slacking lately," said Arenas.

"The talks are ongoing," said Jordan. "You have talented young players that don't always have discipline on a daily basis. That's not just Gilbert; it's all over the league. That's today's NBA player."

As for the game, things were pretty much decided in the first half, when Washington, after going 7-for-9 from the field to start the game, went 8-for-29 the rest of the half.

The Hornets (41-41), who clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, shot 13-for-18 in the second quarter.

The Wizards made a halfhearted attempt at a comeback from an 18-point halftime deficit by slicing the New Orleans lead to 11 late in the third quarter. But the Hornets blew things open in the fourth with a 16-6 run, punctuated by two three-pointers from Baron Davis, who hit six threes on his way to a game-high 26 points.

For Washington, Etan Thomas had 16 points. Jarvis Hayes scored 15, and Jared Jeffries had 13 points and 11 rebounds.














Percentages: FG .451, FT .600. 3-Point Goals: 8-22, .364 (Davis 6-10, Lynch 1-2, Wesley 1-5, Magloire 0-1, Carter 0-1, Williams 0-3). Team Rebounds: 9. Team Turnovers: 16 (9 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Augmon, Traylor, West). Turnovers: 13 (Williams 4, Augmon 2, Traylor 2, West 2, Lynch, Magloire, Carter). Steals: 9 (West 3, Williams 2, Lynch, Davis, Magloire, Traylor). Technical Fouls: None. FGFTReb













Percentages: FG .375, FT .714. 3-Point Goals: 4-19, .211 (Butler 1-1, Hayes 1-4, Dixon 1-5, Blake 1-5, Hughes 0-1, Arenas 0-3). Team Rebounds: 10. Team Turnovers: 15 (12 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (Hughes, Blake). Turnovers: 14 (Arenas 4, Blake 3, Thomas 2, Jeffries 2, Dixon, Butler, Baxter). Steals: 8 (Thomas 3, Dixon, Arenas, Blake, Butler, Hayes). Technical Fouls: None. New Orleans24331522-94


A-17,113 (20,674). T-2:03. Officials-Mark Wunderlich, Ron Olesiak, Tony Brown.

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