Saturday , Mar , 17 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Wizards welcome Hornets to the Verizon Center

(Sports Network) – Now in a dog fight for the Southeast Division lead, the
Washington Wizards will try and secure a victory tonight when they welcome the
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets to the Verizon Center.

Washington once had a comfortable edge in the Southeast standings, but the
red-hot Miami Heat have put together a nine-game winning streak to pull within
just two percentage points of the Wizards. The Heat have one more victory than
the Wizards, but have one more loss as well.

The Wizards had dropped three in a row — part of the reason the Heat were
able to make a run in the standings — before a 112-96 win over the Indiana
Pacers on Wednesday.

Gilbert Arenas poured in 28 of his 35 points in the second half and went 5-
of-8 from three-point range in the win. Antawn Jamison added 27 points and
eight rebounds as Washington halted a five-game slide on the road.

The win came at a cost as forward Caron Butler departed in the second quarter
with stiffness in his left knee. Butler, who originally suffered the injury in
early March but played through the pain, had an MRI on Thursday that was
negative. However, he is expected to be sidelined for at least a week due to a
left knee contusion.

Butler is averaging 19.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and will be re-
evaluated next week.

Washington is a healthy 24-9 at home on the season and will begin a five-game
road swing on the west coast Tuesday in Portland.

The Hornets are in a fight themselves for a playoff spot, as the club is just
one game back of the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors for the
eighth spot in the West.

New Orleans finally righted the ship on Friday when David West scored 18
points and hit a go-ahead jumper with 55 seconds remaining to help the Hornets
come back from 18 points down and top the New York Knicks, 92-90.

West finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who snapped a
six-game losing streak. Chris Paul, who is playing despite a stress reaction
in his left foot, had 20 points and eight assists, and Rasual Butler scored 17

The victory also snapped a five-game road losing streak for the Hornets, who
are 10-23 as the visitor this season. The club returns home to host Boston on

New Orleans took the first meeting with Washington this season, 104-97, in
January behind 22 points by Desmond Mason, and has won four of the last six
matchups in the series.

The Hornets, though, have lost two straight and five of their last six in