Sacramento (15-23) at Washington (12-26)

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Temp: 53° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Sat Jan 16, 2010
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As the Washington Wizards try to find success without their star player, the Sacramento Kings hope the return of theirs will help end the club’s recent struggles.

Trying to play through the distraction of Gilbert Arenas’(notes) legal issues, the Wizards look to avoid a fifth consecutive loss Saturday night when they open a six-game homestand against Kevin Martin(notes) and the Kings, who’ve won only once this month.

Coming off a disappointing 121-119 double-overtime loss at Chicago on Friday, Washington (12-26) returns to the nation’s capital to open its longest homestand of the season. It comes one day after Arenas pleaded guilty to a felony gun charge connected to a locker-room argument with teammate Javaris Crittenton(notes) on Dec. 21. Arenas is suspended indefinitely by the team.

The former All-Star, averaging 22.6 points and 7.2 assists this season, won’t know whether he must serve jail time until his March 26 sentencing. The government indicated it will not seek more than six months, although the judge can give Arenas anywhere from probation to the charge’s maximum term of five years.

“He said to me he messed up and he needs to be responsible,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “He needs to accept his actions.”

The Wizards are trying their best to focus on the court, but they’ve lost nine of 11, including five of six without Arenas.

Antawn Jamison(notes) had a season-high 34 points with 18 rebounds while Caron Butler(notes) added 27 points and Brendan Haywood(notes) grabbed a career-best 20 rebounds Friday.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on off the court. It just matters what’s going on the court,” Jamison said.

“It’s tough to take anytime you lose a game. Off the court doesn’t affect what goes on during game time. It doesn’t affect us at all. We’re out there playing hard, but we’re just coming up short.”

Jamison continues to be one of the few bright spots for the Wizards, who are giving up 106.2 points while allowing opponents to shoot 47.5 percent during their last 11 games. The veteran forward is averaging 29.7 points and 11.7 boards in his last seven games.

Jamison is averaging 31.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in his last three games against the Kings (15-23), who snapped an eight-game losing streak against Washington with a 112-109 home win over the Wizards on Dec. 16.

Martin sat out that contest, but he returned Friday after missing 32 games with a wrist injury and scored 19 points in 33 minutes of a 98-86 loss at Philadelphia. The Sacramento star was averaging 30.6 points in five games before the injury.

“It was good to just get back out there with (my teammates), and just have fun again,” Martin told the Kings’ official Web site. “There’s always going to be rust.”

Though Martin is averaging 24.2 points in six career games versus Washington, he’s likely not ready to try to carry the load for the Kings, who have lost two in a row and - like Washington - nine of 11.

Rookie Tyreke Evans(notes) is averaging 20.4 points and helped fill the void of Martin’s absence, but the native of nearby Chester, Pa., was held to 14 points and 3-of-13 shooting Friday in front of the hometown crowd. Evans had 26 points with six rebounds and six assists against Washington last month.

The Kings have also struggled on the defensive end, giving up an average of 107.5 points in their last 11 contests.

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Saturday, Jan 16