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Home not sweet for weary Cavs



Published: Tue, January 25, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cleveland returned to Gund from road trip and was stunned by Wizards.

CLEVELAND (AP) -- After the final horn sounded, Washington's Anthony Peeler grabbed the ball and slammed it off the Gund Arena floor as hard as he could. As it rose toward the rafters, Peeler pumped his fist and yelled.

The surprising Wizards had done it again.

Peeler made three 3-pointers and scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, and Gilbert Arenas scored 30 as the Wizards rallied for a 106-97 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.

With their 10th win in 12 games, the Wizards (25-15) matched their win total from last season, when they went 25-57.

Washington scored just 30 points in the first half, but overcame a 17-point deficit by making 39 free throws.

"They rattled us in the first half," Arenas said. "We didn't know what to do. But we were down by 10 -- that's five baskets. And the way our guys shoot the 3, less than that."

Rare home loss

LeBron James just missed his third triple-double in four games, finishing with 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Cleveland, which was coming off a six-game West Coast trip. The Cavs lost at home for just the fourth time in 18 games.

"We gave up a lot of free throws," James said after the Cavs attempted just 23 to Washington's 49. "We kept fouling their jump shooters and they just came out and made shots in the second half."

Arenas took special satisfaction in beating James.

"He is the NBA right now," Arenas said of Cleveland's second-year star. "You've got to come to play or he will embarrass you. It's the big matchup, I take it personal."

Peeler drained his 3s in a span of 4:27 and made three free throws after being fouled on a long-range shot for Washington, which entered the fourth down 73-68 before storming back.

Call in the reserves

Antawn Jamison added 16 points and Brendan Haywood 15 for the Wizards, who had six players score in double figures.

Washington's bench was no factor for most of the first three quarters, chipping in with just two points before the final period. But Peeler started the fourth with a 3-pointer and the Wizards' reserves scored 16 of 20 points to open the quarter.

Peeler's second 3 of the fourth gave the Wizards a 78-76 lead, their first since the game's opening basket. Etan Thomas then scored two straight buckets to make it 82-78 with 6:54 remaining before Peeler, who missed all four of his shots in the first half, hit another long 3.

"He's got the green light for the 3 and he hit them," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.

Cleveland closed to 90-85 on Drew Gooden's two free throws but Arenas hit another 3-pointer, and the Wizards put it away by making 10 free throws in the final 2:31.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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