Wizards shake off Celtics

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WASHINGTON – Antawn Jamison recovered from a hyperextended knee to score five of his 23 points in overtime, and the Washington Wizards blew a 21-point second-half lead Saturday night before beating the Boston Celtics 115-110.

The Wizards won their 10th straight home game – setting a Verizon Center record – in agonizing fashion. Not only did they lose a big lead, but Brendan Haywood failed to win an easy jump ball, Caron Butler missed a dunk and Antonio Daniels tossed a wild airball – all in overtime.

But, with the Celtics trailing by three and trying to set up a game-tying shot in the final seconds of the extra period, Daniels and Butler forced a turnover by Allan Ray. Daniels fed Gilbert Arenas for a layup with 2.7 seconds remaining to secure the win.

Butler had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Arenas scored 22 points for the Wizards, who have won four in a row overall and improved their home record to 17-3. The 10-game home streak is the longest since the downtown arena opened in 1997. The last time the franchise won 10 consecutive home games was in 1989, when the Bullets won 15 straight.

Ryan Gomes scored a career-high 31 points, and Al Jefferson had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who have lost seven straight.

The game looked like the mismatch it was expected to be for more than a half – Arenas’ 3-pointer gave the Wizards a 75-54 lead early in the third quarter – but Washington got complacent while Jefferson scored 13 points and Ray made three 3-pointers in a 30-10 run. Ray finished with 20 points.

Meanwhile, the Wizards fell completely out of sorts. Over three possessions, Arenas missed a pair of free throws, DeShawn Stevenson was whistled for a careless offensive foul, and Etan Thomas fouled trying to get an offensive rebound.

Washington’s lead was down to 85-84 entering the fourth quarter.

The Celtics tied it on a fast-break alley-oop from Delonte West to Gomes.

After Arenas missed a baseline dunk, Boston took its first lead of the game, 93-91 on a pair of free throws by Ray.

Jefferson’s jumper capped a 6-0 run to put the Celtics ahead 99-93, but the Wizards responded with a 7-0 spurt to take a one-point lead.

Baskets were traded, then Gomes made one of two free throws to tie it at 102 with 1:26 left.

Neither team scored again in regulation.

Arenas wasn’t able to replicate his buzzer-beating magic of the past month, missing a long 3-pointer from the right wing to send the game to overtime.

Arenas finished 10-for-26 from the field and was only 5-for-14 after halftime.

The Wizards got an early scare when West fell backward into Jamison’s lower leg late in the first quarter. Jamison crumpled to the court in pain and limped off a couple of minutes later, but the injury was diagnosed as a hyperextended knee and he was back in the game early in the second quarter.

The Wizards, taking advantage of the Celtics’ stand-around-and-watch defense, shot 71 percent in the first quarter. Haywood had an eight-point burst, with two dunks, a hook shot and another nice move in the paint.

With coach Eddie Jordan substituting liberally, subs Roger Mason and Antonio Daniels helped lead a 13-0 run that gave the Wizards a 54-34 lead early in the second quarter. By halftime, Jamison had 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting, and Washington was ahead 62-49.

Notes: With the Wizards atop the Eastern Conference standings, Jordan has a chance to become the first Wizards coach to coach in the All-Star game since Dick Motta in 1979. The honor goes to the coach whose team is in first place through the games on Feb. 4. Jordan, though, has other plans. “I’ve got a vacation planned,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice vacation with my children, my dogs.” So, would he decline the assignment? “No way will I decline,” he said. “It would be a great honor.” Still, he said he’s trying not to think too much about it: “You’ve been around long enough to know you could be so close to something, get your hopes up, and then all of a sudden something changes and you don’t get it. So I’m going to be happy either way, let’s say that.” … The Wizards have won two home games against the Celtics for the first time since the 1997-98 season.

AP-ES-01-20-07 2300EST

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