Published March 31, 2010
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Mike Miller scored a season-high 27 points and the Washington Wizards snapped a franchise-record 16-game losing streak with a 96-91 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.
The Wizards avoided an 0-17 March with their first win since beating New Jersey on Feb. 28.
David West scored 18 points for the Hornets, who were coming off a home win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. Chris Paul had eight points and nine assists.
Washington almost blew a 12-point lead in the last 4:20. After trailing 87-75, the Hornets had two chances to tie in the final 15.3 seconds, but James Posey missed a free throw and West was off target on a 3-point attempt.
Miller's two free throws sealed the win with 4.4 seconds left.
Washington, which lost a fourth-quarter lead at Houston on Tuesday, was in control of this one almost all the way. The Wizards led by 4 at the half, 70-59 at the end of the third quarter and answered every Hornets run.
After New Orleans pulled to 80-75 on a Darren Collison floater, Miller drilled a 3-pointer, Livingston hit a mid-range jumper and Blatche converted two free throws to give Washington a 87-75 lead with 3:32 left.
Even that advantage was not safe.
The Hornets went on a 11-2 run, closing the gap to 88-86 on a 3-pointer by Marcus Thornton. The Wizards went back up by 6 on baskets from Blatche and James Singleton, but the Hornets forced three consecutive turnovers in the final minute and had a chance to tie it when Posey went to the free-throw line with 15.3 seconds left.
He missed the first foul shot, and Livingston's free throws put Washington ahead 94-91 with 13.6 left.
West missed a contested 3-point attempt on the Hornets' next possession, setting up Miller for his clinching free throws.
Until the frantic finish, everything came easily for the Wizards, who scored four consecutive baskets on layups or dunks early in the fourth quarter. Miller went 9 for 14 from the field, Blatche was 8 for 10 and Livingston hit 8 of 10.
Collison, who had made 16 of 19 shots in the Hornets' last two games, was a non-factor for most of the night, going 2 of 4 from the floor through three quarters.
The Hornets' last lead was 3-2.
Blatche started quickly, hitting six of his first seven shots and scoring 12 points in the first quarter against the sluggish Hornets.
The Hornets closed their deficit to 40-39 with a late 10-2 spurt, but Blatche's outside shot gave the Wizards a 43-39 lead at the break.
NOTES: The Hornets played their first game without former lead assistant Tim Floyd, who was named UTEP coach on Tuesday. Floyd, the head coach for New Orleans in 2003-04, joined the Hornets on Nov. 12 when Byron Scott was fired as coach and replaced by Jeff Bower. ... Cedric Jackson, whom the Wizards signed to a 10-day contract earlier Wednesday, did not play. Jackson, a rookie, averaged 16.4 points and 7.4 assists for the Erie Bayhawks in the D-League ... New Orleans (35-41), which was eliminated from the playoff picture earlier this week, is guaranteed to have its first non-winning season since 2006-07.