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Wizards' 'second-tier' picks up slack
Wizards vs Bulls

 Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson (right) crashes into Chicago's Ben Gordon during the first half last night. Stevenson scored 13 points.
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Date published: 1/11/2007

By ADAM HIMMELSBACH

WASHINGTON--It's rare for the Wizards' trio of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison to be outscored by their opponent's three leading scorers.

Last night, however, the Chicago Bulls' top gunners got the best of Washington's triumvirate.

For the Wizards, that turned out to be nothing more than a statistical anomaly, as their lesser-known players were perfect side-dishes, leading their team to a 113-103 victory at the Verizon Center.

Antonio Daniels, DeShawn Stevenson and Jarvis Hayes, all of whom average less than 10 points per game, tallied 15, 13 and 10, respectively last night.

Chicago's Kirk Hinrich, Andres Nocioni and Ben Gordon combined for 78 points; Arenas, Jamison and Butler totaled only 64. But it did not matter.

"It's a total team effort when you have balanced scoring like that," Daniels said. "Gilbert can't score 40 every night, so it's the job of the supporting cast to pick things up."

The Wizards topped the 100-point mark for the 18th consecutive time. The Bulls are the last team to hold Washington below 100, as they took a 112-94 victory in Chicago on Dec. 2.

And that is about the time the Wizards morphed into one of the hottest teams in the NBA. They've won 14 of their last 18 games, and at 20-14, they own the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference. If the current spree continues, Washington has a legitimate chance to enter the All-Star break with the conference's best record, as it is just two games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (22-12).

"We just have to stay focused," Arenas said, "and continue winning games."

The next two will come on the road against the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets and the San Antonio Spurs. The Wizards are 14-3 this season at the Verizon Center, but just 6-11 away from it.

Slowly, this team is grabbing the attention of the nation's capital. Last night's game was a rare mid-week sellout, as the fans sprinkled the now-nightly "MVP!" chants on Arenas.

There was very little for the home fans to cheer about in the opening minutes, though. A 3-pointer by Chris Duhon gave the Bulls an 11-2 lead, and the Wizards went 6 minutes, 25 seconds without converting their first field goal.


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Wizards 113, Bulls 103