Saturday , Nov , 05 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Wizards topple Magic; off to best start since 1978-79 season

=== Wizards topple Magic; off to best start since 1978-79 season ===

Washington, DC (Sports Network) – Gilbert Arenas scored 30 points on 11-of-23
from the floor, as the Washington Wizards opened a four-game homestand with a
87-79 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Antawn Jamison added 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the Wizards, who
are off to their first 3-0 start since 1978-79, when they won their first four
contests and is also the last time they were in the NBA Finals.

The Wizards, who were playing their home opener, shot only 40 percent from
the floor, but big defensive stops and big shots down the stretch from Arenas
and Jamison were the keys.

Dwight Howard led a balanced attack for Orlando with 17 points and 11
rebounds, while Steve Francis scored 16 points and Hedo Turkoglu added 15 for
the Magic.

Orlando, which is still looking for its first win, was held to 31 percent
shooting for the game, including 3-of-11 from behind the arc.

The Wizards, after trailing most of the first half, started gaining momentum
during the third quarter.

Arenas drained a three-pointer with 2:03 left in the third to give Washington
a 60-59 lead. On the next possession, Jamison hit a three-pointer from the
left wing off a dish from Arenas to increase the lead with 1:31 left in the
period.

Michael Ruffin flew into the middle of the lane on the next Washington
possession and tipped in a missed jumper with his left hand to cap a 12-0 run
that gave the Wizards a 65-59 lead with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.

The game remained tight, with neither team gaining a substantial advantage
through the early stages of the fourth quarter.

The final three minutes were a battle of execution.

First, trailing 81-76, Francis hit a three-pointer from the left wing to trim
the lead with 2:02 left. Chucky Atkins answered with a floating jumper down
the middle of the lane that was taken on its way down by Howard for
goaltending, increasing the lead to 83-79.

After two stout defensive possessions, Francis was fouled by Jarvis Hayes as
the two dove for a loose ball. Francis, a 64 percent foul shooter on the
season, had a chance to cut the lead to two with 56 seconds left. He missed
them both.

After Jamison made 1-of-2 from the line to build the lead to 84-79, DeShawn
Stevenson missed a spinning left-handed scoop shot in the lane with 18 seconds
left, and the Wizards iced the game from the foul line.

The game was tied 22-22 after one quarter, as both teams finished with 14
points in the paint, and neither team led by more than four.

The game remained close in the second quarter, with the Magic jumping out to a
seven-point lead, 42-35, before the Wizards scored the last five points of the
half.

Neither team shot the ball well in the half, with the Magic shooting 38
percent and the Wizards shooting at a 40 percent clip.

The Magic led at the break, 42-40, because they dominated the glass,
outrebounding the Wizards 30-22 behind six each from Francis and Howard.

Game Notes

Arenas has scored at least 30 points in his last four games versus the
Magic…The Magic are in the midst of a three-game road trip that will still
take them to Houston to play the Rockets and Oklahoma City to play the New
Orleans Hornets…Jamison had four key rebounds in the final 1:25…Atkins
played important minutes down the stretch after Wizards guard Antonio Daniels
left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

WAS ORL