Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards try to complete a perfect five-game homestand when they meet the stumbling 76ers.
When these teams last met on Jan. 16, Washington posted its season-high fourth straight win with a 104-76 rout of Philadelphia. The Wizards lost two nights later in Orlando, but that’s one of only four losses in their last 16 games.
Washington goes into its rematch with the 76ers having won four in a row again, all on this homestand. A victory Sunday would give the team its longest winning streak since a seven-game run from Jan. 2-15, 2005.
Arenas had a season-high 12 assists in the last meeting with Philadelphia, and had 10 on Friday as he came within two rebounds of a triple-double in a 101-89 victory over Cleveland.
He outscored fellow All-Star LeBron James 32-18, two nights after scoring 45 points in a 129-124 victory over Golden State.
Arenas originally was left off the roster for next weekend’s All-Star game, but was notified on the way to Friday’s contest he had been chosen to replace injured Indiana forward Jermaine O’Neal. Arenas is the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer with 28.3 points per game and will make his second straight All-Star appearance.
“Emotions and excitement,” said Arenas, who has 23 30-point games this season. “But I still had to get the job done. It was a very important game for us, and our coaches were probably worried ‘How’s he going to react?’ But as a team we got the job done.”
Antawn Jamison added 28 points while both Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood tallied double-doubles for the Wizards, who have shot 50 percent over the last two games. Washington outrebounded the Cavaliers 44-36 and held them to 40.5 percent from the field while becoming the sixth team this season to hold James under 20 points.
“It was a phenomenal job from everyone defensively,” Jamison said. “Offensively we took advantage of certain situations, penetrating and moving the ball well. It was definitely a great game for us.”
Washington continues to play great at home, winning six straight and nine in a row against Eastern Conference opponents.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has lost four of five overall, including a 100-92 defeat to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday.
The 76ers shot 63 percent from the field in the first half, but were held to 31 points in the second. Philadelphia was outrebounded 54-41 and shot a season-low 57 percent from the free-throw line.
“We didn’t drive the ball like we did in the first half,” 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We shot all jump shots and that allowed them back in the game and eventually win the game because we didn’t continue doing the things we were doing.”
Philadelphia center Steven Hunter returned to practice Friday after the New Orleans Hornets rescinded a trade for him on Thursday due to medical concerns. Hunter is averaging 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds for the 76ers and has not played since Jan. 29.