Hornets 94, Wizards 78
WASHINGTON (AP)—Just in time for the playoffs, Baron Davis got healthy.
Just in time for the end of the season, Gilbert Arenas got lax.
Davis scored 26 points Wednesday night in his second game back from an ankle injury, helping the New Orleans secure the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 94-78 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
The Hornets will open the playoffs on the road against Miami on Sunday.
“It’s a good time of the year,” coach Tim Floyd said. “I’m pleased that we did win our last two on the road. Baron looked better tonight than he was the last game, which is the way it should be. I thought he played inspired and he played hard.”
Jamaal Magloire added 23 points and 14 rebounds as the Hornets (41-41) also avoided their first losing season since 1991-92.
“We have a golden opportunity to do something special,” said Davis, who missed nine games with a sprained left ankle. “A best-of-seven games is going to give us the confidence that we can go in and know we can beat someone.”
The Wizards (25-57) finished another miserable year a full 32 games away from break-even, their worst season since going 19-63 in 2000-01. They were booed by the home fans as the horn sounded at the end of their 34th double-digit loss. Center Kwame Brown heard another smattering of boos as he was introduced to thank the fans for their support.
“Just the amount of games we kept losing, I mean it was tough,” said guard Larry Hughes, who along with Arenas and Jerry Stackhouse missed huge chunks of the season with injuries. “I don’t really see a positive other than I finished healthy, and Gilbert finished healthy, but Stack’s still out. Kwame was hurt. I don’t really get too many positives out of this year.”
Another final indignity came when point guard Arenas was taken out of the starting lineup for disciplinary reasons for the second straight game. After being punished for missing the team’s flight for Monday’s game at Detroit, Arenas was benched again Wednesday for arriving late for the morning shootaround.
Arenas, who went 0-for-5 from the field, was all over the place trying to explain himself.
“Today wasn’t my fault. I woke up at 8 o’clock. Traffic,” Arenas said. “I’ve got to learn how to drive in the rain. I usually don’t have a problem with it. I’ve just been slacking lately. My fault.”
Arenas missed another shootaround this season because he was playing pool in the player’s lounge, taking him out of the starting lineup of a game against Milwaukee in January.
Asked if he needs to have an offseason talk with Arenas, who signed a six-year, $65 million contract last summer, coach Eddie Jordan sternly replied: “The talks are ongoing.”
The Hornets took control with a 24-6 run starting late in the first quarter. They shot 54 percent in the first half to lead by 18 at the break. Magloire scored 13 points in the first quarter, while Davis had 12 in the second.
The Hornets made just five field goals in the third quarter, but the Wizardsnever pulled any closer than 11 points in the second half.
Hornets guard Darrell Armstrong missed the final three games with a sprained right ankle. … New Orleans played its last regular-season game in the Eastern Conference; the Hornets will move to the West as the league realigns next season. The Wizards will move to the new Southeast Division. … Stackhouse (sore right ankle) missed the last three games, while Brown (soreleft foot) missed the last four.