WASHINGTON – The Washington Wizards broke a three-game losing streak without ailing All-Star Gilbert Arenas.

Chucky Atkins ran the offense with Arenas nursing a sore back and Jarvis Hayes scored 19 points Tuesday night to lead a balanced attack for the Wizards in a 94-74 victory over the New Jersey Nets.

The Wizards, who have had trouble blowing big leads, never trailed as they won their final game before starting a five-game, West Coast road trip. A 20-point second-quarter lead was cut to seven at halftime, but Hayes scored eight points in a third quarter dominated 31-17 by the Wizards.

Hayes finished 7-for-12 from the field, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range, to lead the team in scoring for the first time this season. Antawn Jamison had 12 points and eight rebounds, Etan Thomas scored 12, Caron Butler added 12 points and 10 rebounds and the Wizards outrebounded the Nets 43-30.

Arenas, who leads the Wizards in scoring (27.7 points), assists (6.2), steals (1.58), minutes (41.4) and turnovers (3.9), sat out for the first time this season. He bruised his back when he crashed to the floor after his shot was blocked from behind Saturday in a loss to Chicago. He played Sunday at Miami but struggled through a 5-for-24 shooting performance.

In his place was Atkins, who expressed his dissatisfaction with playing time and suggested he would like to be traded in a pair of recent interviews with The Washington Times. Atkins backed off those comments Tuesday morning knowing he was about to get his first start, and he proved an able quarterback with 12 points and a season-high nine assists in a team-high 45 minutes.

Vince Carter, who started 0-for-6, scored 14 points, Richard Jefferson scored 13, and Jason Kidd had 12 for the Nets, who shot 29 in the first quarter and 39 percent for the game. New Jersey, which had a four-game road winning streak snapped, got only two points from its reserves in the first three quarters.

The Wizards took control early. Atkins had three assists, Hayes scored nine points, and Washington shot 65 percent in the first quarter to take a 29-14 lead. The lead grew to 38-18 in the second before the Nets had their only good run, a half-ending 17-4 spurt to pull within 42-35 at halftime.

Hayes made a 3-pointer to get the lead back to 10 early in the third quarter, and the Nets never got within single digits again.

Notes: Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said there were no plans to trade Atkins. … Nets F Jason Collins returned after missing three straight games with a sore right leg, although Clifford Robinson continued to start. Collins went scoreless in 16 minutes. … Hayes completed a four-point play in the first quarter after being fouled by Carter while making a 3-pointer.

AP-ES-12-13-05 2132EST


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