WASHINGTON -- Another mini-drama involving Gilbert Arenas. Another victory over a top NBA team.
Yep, another routine night for the Washington Wizards.
With Arenas unhappy that he wasn't cleared to play, the Wizards did what they've done all season without him - beat an NBA front-runner. Antawn Jamison had 24 points and 12 rebounds in Sunday night's 95-83 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
"When we play good teams, we step up," said guard DeShawn Stevenson, who scored 12 points. "That says a lot. When the playoffs come, we're going to have to play a good team like that."
Although only three games above .500, the Wizards own two victories each over Boston, Dallas, New Orleans and Cleveland. They are 1-1 vs. Detroit with one more meeting next month.
Of course, it helped that the Pistons are comfortably playoff-bound and have settled into second place in the Eastern Conference, sapping some of Detroit's motivation.
"With the position that we're in, we have the luxury of trying to work on some things," said Detroit guard Chauncey Billups, who had 11 assists and four turnovers. "We're not moving up or down or trying to go nowhere. We just have to stay healthy and try to work on some things that could benefit us in some series."
Overall, Washington has won three straight and six of seven, a nice bit of momentum heading into a five-game, West Coast road trip.
"It's a completely different animal out there," coach Eddie Jordan said. "We've got to put our road hat on."
Caron Butler, whose return from a hip injury has coincided with his team's recent run of good play, added 17 points, six assists and five rebounds. Brendan Haywood had 16 points for the Wizards, who shot 53 percent.
Not in the lineup for the 61st consecutive game was Arenas, who took part in the morning shootaround and was expecting to play before team doctors told him that his surgically repaired left knee wasn't ready.
The three-time All-Star guard was clearly miffed -- "I'm not coming back this year," he muttered about an hour before the game -- and he left because he didn't have suitable attire to wear on the bench. He reappeared in the first half wearing a tan sport coat and took his spot on the bench, where he cheered his teammates on.
"I was ready," Arenas told ESPN during the game. "But they went out there with a fishing pole and yanked me back."
Said Jordan: "Typical Gilbert. He had to go get a jacket. He likes to give you guys stories. You fall for it every time."
Richard Hamilton scored 19 points to lead the Pistons. Rasheed Wallace added 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting and was called for a technical for shoving Andray Blatche during the Wizards' key fourth-quarter run.
The Wizards took the lead late in the first quarter and never relinquished it, although the Pistons pulled close several times. Washington was up 73-69 early in the fourth, but an 8-2 run capped by Roger Mason's 3-pointer increased the lead to 81-71 with 7:25 to play.
"We didn't even much at all run our normal plays," said Detroit's Tayshaun Prince, who scored 13 points. "We were running pretty much stuff just to get some movement or whatnot, just to not having guys standing around. Usually, in crucial situations during the game, we usually go to our bread-and-butter plays, but we didn't run no plays at all tonight, really."
- Wizards G Nick Young missed his second straight game with a bruised right thigh.
- Wizards G Antonio Daniels, carrying the load at point guard because of the injury to Arenas, started his career-high 51st game of the season. Daniels started 50 games as a rookie for Vancouver in the 1997-98 season.
- Jordan on Arenas: "He wants to test his whole body in an NBA game, and the doctors said he's not ready and it's good for all parties to wait and see once another week has gone by to see where he is."
- Jamison had the highlight play of the game: a falling-down, right-handed fling into the basket while being fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound. He made the free throw for a three-point play. Jamison is averaging 25.5 points and 10.2 rebounds in March.