Wizards 114, Jazz 111
WASHINGTON (AP)—The MVP chants are growing louder in Washington.
Arenas left the court to a chorus of “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
“MVP? That trophy is given out at the end of the year,” Arenas said. “This is (37) games into the season so you can’t do too much about it.
“Right now, Steve Nash is above everybody. You have to really do something dramatic in this league. If Kobe averages 35 with an 81 and he didn’t get it, you have to do something else in this league to overtake what Steve Nash has done.”
Arena matched the Verizon Center record of 51 points set by Michael Jordan against the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 29, 2001.
Arenas provided plenty of drama in the final 2:09 of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee by converting three 3-pointers and three free throws to eclipse the 50-point mark for the third time this season. He shot 14-for-29 from the field, including 7-for-12 on 3-pointers, and 16-for-17 at the free-throw line. He also had five assists and committed only one turnover in 41 minutes.
“I’m going for the gusto,” Arenas said. “I’m going for that winner. The funny part is I was sitting right here before the game and I told DeShawn (Stevenson): ‘I feel like 37 and the game-winner tonight.’ So when I told him after the game: ‘What did I say?’ He just started laughing and said: ‘Man, you were right.”’
It was the seventh time this season Arenas scored 40 or more points and the most points he’s ever tallied at the Verizon Center.
“I’m going to break all the records that’s here,” Arenas said with a laugh of his own. “I’m glad it was an older Michael than a younger Michael because if it was a younger Michael it would have been up there.”
Arenas took the ensuing inbounds pass and ran the clock down until he launched the game-winner over Deron Williams.
“I felt like I was in a win-win situation, go to OT or make the shot,” Arenas said. “I was on fire the last three minutes of the game so there was no point of going in and trying to create two points. Once I felt the ball come out of my hands, I knew it was going in. It had great arc and it was lined up with the rim, so I started celebrating pre-make. I put my hands up because I knew the game was over.”
Williams said he knew what was coming but could do nothing to stop Arenas.
“I looked up with four seconds and he was still messing with the ball, so I tried to get up on him a little more,” Williams said. “He made a little move, a little step, I backed up a little bit and that is when he raised up. I tried to get a hand up.
“Everybody in the arena knew he was going to shoot it. We knew he was going to shoot it. He just made a great shot.”
Caron Butler had 21 points and seven rebounds for the Wizards, who won their eighth straight at home and improved to 15-3 at the Verizon Center. Brendan Haywood added his fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Mehmet Okur led Utah with a career-high 38 points and nine rebounds. Boozer added 27 points and 13 rebounds, giving him five double-doubles in the past six games. Williams added 12 points and 13 assists for his 10th double-double of the season.
After Arenas’ 3-pointer tied the score at 1:06 with 1:40 left, Okur’s 3-pointer gave Utah a 109-106 lead. Arenas responded with three free throws to tie the score with 1:09 remaining.
“They were going shot for shot,” Williams said of Arenas and Okur. “He was coming down hitting threes and Memo was coming down and bailing us out.”
Jarvis Hayes’ follow shot gave Washington a 111-109 lead with 24 seconds left, but Boozer’s follow tied it at 111, setting the stage for Arenas, who handed the Jazz their fourth straight loss.
The Jazz led by 16 points in the first half, outscored the Wizards 30-18 in the paint during the first half and led 58-48 at halftime.
Arenas scored less than 20 points for only the fifth time this season during the Wizards’ 93-80 loss in San Antonio on Saturday night. In the games following those subpar performances, Arenas is averaging 35.5 points. ^@ Notes: Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko did not have a shot or a rebound in the first half. His first points came on a pair of free throws with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter. He finished with four points and three rebounds. …