WASHINGTON (AP)—It’s been a strange season for DeShawn Stevenson. He’s started every game for the Washington Wizards, but sometimes he’s been ineffective. Held scoreless in four games, he’s led his team in scoring for the past two.
On Saturday night, with the Wizards playing without both its top two point guards, Stevenson had 19 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead the Wizards to a 92-79 win over the Sacramento Kings.
Already without starting point guard Gilbert Arenas, recovering from left knee surgery last month, Washington announced earlier in day that backup Antonio Daniels would be out for the next two-to-four weeks due to a sprained MCL.
“I’m just taking my time,” Stevenson said. “I started off slow last year, and I started off slow this season. It takes time to get my rhythm. I don’t get a lot of shots with Gilbert.”
In one game, Stevenson played 24 minutes and didn’t even shoot. In the team’s last three games, he’s had 15 3-pointers.
“If they pass it, I’m going to shoot it,” he said.
Stevenson had three 3s in the third quarter as the Wizards, who never trailed, stretched a two-point lead with 8:27 to play in the quarter to a 77-63 lead with 3:21 left.
“If they want to sit back and let me shoot wide-open 3s, I’ll do it,” he said.
Stevenson started the fourth quarter with another 3-pointer—his fifth— and hit another jumper, and Mason sank a 3 to give the Wizards an 88-68 lead with 8:46 to play.
Without Arenas, Daniels, Etan Thomas, who is out indefinitely after undergoing open heart surgery in October, and rookie forward Oleksiy Pecherov has been sidelined with a broken right ankle, Washington is down to nine healthy players. Before the game, Washington coach Eddie Jordan worried that backup center Andray Blatche’s sore foot might cut his available list down to eight.
After much contemplation, he settled on rookie Nick Young to make his first NBA start in Daniels’ place, but he was pulled after 5 minutes in favor of Roger Mason, who scored 13 points—10 in the first half—to help the Wizards win their fourth straight.
Jordan was relieved to see Stevenson, who had a season-high 26 points against Miami on Thursday, play a starring role for a change.
“He knows this is a little bit different now. Now, he’s got to be a scorer,” Jordan said. “He understands he can be that kind of a player.”
Caron Butler, whose 12 points were 10 fewer than his season average, tried to encourage Stevenson on Thursday—and he’s noticed a difference.
“I just think his confidence is at an all-time high,” Butler said. “We exchanged some words in the Miami game, and I was trying to influence him to go out there and shoot the ball without thinking about it.”
On Friday, the Kings won their first road game of the season in Philadelphia, and not only did they fail to win their second, but they continued their inconsistent play. They’ve won consecutive games just twice.
“Guys that we thought wasn’t going to knock down shots were knocking down shots,” Artest said. “I don’t know what the score was, but—we got 79? Gosh, we’ve got to play better.”
While the Kings outscored Washington 27-19, they let Stevenson’s hot shooting in third quarter put them out of the game. They watched the Wizards score 18 points off turnovers, and that upset Sacramento coach Reggie Theus.
“When you’re on the road and you make that many turnovers, you should not win,” Theus said.
Theus doesn’t have much sympathy for his counterpart. The Kings are missing Mike Bibby, who’s hasn’t played yet due to thumb surgery, and his team’s leading scorer Kevin Martin, missed his sixth straight game with a strained right groin.
“Tonight we needed our other scorer,” Theus said. “We missed Kevin Martin badly.”
Washington held Sacramento to the fewest points the Wizards have surrendered this season. … Five Washington players scored in double figures. It’s the sixth straight time, they’ve had five players score 10 or more for the first time in 12 years. … The Kings have lost four straight to the Wizards.