Wizards send Knicks to ninth consecutive loss

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WASHINGTON – A game against the worst team in the East was an ideal homecoming for the Washington Wizards, who got 13 points and a season-high 13 assists from Gilbert Arenas and defeated the New York Knicks 105-90.

Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler scored 18 points apiece to lead six players in double figures for the Wizards, who shot 49 percent and capitalized on New York’s season-high 28 turnovers. Arenas matched his season high with six steals.

The Knicks lost their ninth straight.

Washington were ahead by 11 after the first quarter and by 22 at halftime. The lead reached 31 in the fourth quarter, and coach Eddie Jordan was able to sit all of his starters for the final 7:14 of the game. The Wizards’ 16 steals were a season high.

The victory assured the Wizards another day in fifth place in the Eastern Conference as they returned home – albeit temporarily – after going 3-3 on a West Coast road trip. Washington returns to the road for its next two games and will play only three of its final nine at the Verizon Center.

Jackie Butler scored a career-high 22 points for the Knicks, who are looking more and more comfortable in the role of a team that simply can’t wait for the season to end. They had 16 turnovers at halftime – including two offensive 3-second violations in the first quarter.

Nine of the 10 players who suited up finished with at least one turnover, and three starters – Malik Rose (six), Eddy Curry (four) and Jamal Crawford (five) – combined for 15.

Coach Larry Brown juggled his lineup again, starting a league-high 42nd different unit this season. Steve Francis opened at point guard, with Nate Robinson coming off the bench. Stephon Marbury, Jalen Rose and Jerome James sat out with injuries or illness.

The laugher was a good setting for the return of Wizards center Brendan Haywood. Haywood lost his starting job to Etan Thomas during the road trip, then missed three games with back spasms while stewing over his benching. He came off the bench to score nine points against the Knicks, more than he had scored in his last three appearances combined.

The Knicks’ only lead came when Curry’s two free throws made the score 2-0. Four minutes later, the Wizards had scored 12 straight points, and the Knicks were 0-for-5 from the field with three turnovers.

Qyntel Woods’ turnover led to a fast-break slam by Thomas, one of three Wizards dunks in the first 41/2 minutes. Washington scored 16 of its 30 points in the paint in the first quarter while shooting 65 percent.

Two free throws by Antonio Daniels gave the Wizards an 11-point lead with 0.3 seconds to go in the first quarter – and the Knicks never got within single digits again.

Notes: The Wizards dressed as the Baltimore Bullets and finally won a game in their throwbacks. They had been 0-5 wearing the 1970s-era blue-and-orange this season. … The Wizards went 3-1 against the Knicks, taking the season series for the first time since 2001-02. … Marbury missed his second straight game with a strained knee tendon, while Jalen Rose sat out his second straight with plantar fasciitis in his left foot and a sore right knee. James was the new entry on the injured list: He was out with an upper respiratory infection. … Two Knicks received technical fouls for jawing with the refs, Maurice Taylor in the second quarter and Crawford in the fourth.

AP-ES-04-04-06 2204EDT

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