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Butler bails out Arenas as Wizards edge Hawks

Nov 29, 2006 - 2:42 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Caron Butler took Gilbert Arenas off the hook.

Butler's three-point play snapped a tie with 1:04 to play and the Washington Wizards overcame a handful of poor plays by Arenas for a 96-95 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that snapped a four-game slide.

"I am just trying to stay aggressive, trying to stay consistent," Butler said. "My teammates are finding me in the flow, (I'm) getting hacked and going to the foul line and just making shots."

Butler and Arenas each scored 21 points for the Wizards, who gave away an eight-point lead in the final period but recovered to hand the Hawks their sixth loss in seven games.

An All-Star guard with terrific competitive spirit, Arenas usually is the player the Wizards expect to drive their offense in the fourth quarter. However, his game was all over the place as he made 2-of-8 shots and committed five turnovers in the final period.

"It depends on how you are getting turnovers," Arenas explained. "You're going to the lane and people are moving and they are calling charges on you, that does affect you. If there is a pass I think someone should have got, that kind of affects you, too.

"At the end of the day, I don't think they are calling the game the way it was called last year. It's just real inconsistent right now and I am trying to figure out the angle. ... It's like they are looking at the wrong things now. Truthfully, at the beginning of the season it is always like that."

During one two-minute stretch, Arenas took a bad shot, threw away a pass and had a driving layup blocked, allowing Atlanta to get back in the game. With the game tied and 1:29 to go, he was called for charging.

"I just started having turnovers the last couple of games and I have been struggling for five games now," Arenas said. "When you are aggressive you are going to have turnovers. I am not paying attention to them 'cause there will some games where I have one or two and it all evens out in the end."

"As a star player, he has to understand that he has to stay aggressive and stay positive and continue to do what he do and everything will pan out," Butler said. "He's a star in this league and he earns everything he gets. He just has to play through the adversity now and I think everything will turn back in his favor."

Antonio Daniels made a steal and sent in Butler, who scored and was fouled by Joe Johnson. His 32nd straight free throw gave Washington a 96-93 lead.

"The three-point play was huge that Caron Butler made," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Joe didn't wrap him up and he was able to complete the play."

"You all are going have me miss my next one. Watch," Butler said. "Just trying to dial in on the line. Shoot 100 free throws after every practice and try to keep in rhythm. Just got to step up and make them. I have been a career 80-something percent."

Former Wizard Tyronn Lue made a jumper and Arenas again was called for an offensive foul with 38 seconds left, giving the Hawks a chance to win. Josh Smith missed a 3-pointer, but Arenas failed to track down the long rebound.

The Hawks went to Johnson, who had 33 points and eight assists. But he missed a fadeaway jumper over Jarvis Hayes and time expired before the Hawks could get off another shot.

"The shot looked good when it left my hand but it just didn't go down," Johnson said. "I'm still trying to catch my breath over the last two possessions," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "I think Jarvis did a good job of sticking with Joe on the last two possessions."

Antawn Jamison scored 18 points for the Wizards, who survived a season-high 21 turnovers - nine by Arenas. Washington shot 47 percent (31-of-66).

Lue scored 18 points off the bench and Zaza Pachulia grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who shot 42 percent (36-of-86) and lost for the sixth time in seven games.

In Saturday's loss at Orlando, Johnson scored a season-low 16 points. He scored 12 points in the first half and another 12 in the third quarter, when the Hawks erased a six-point deficit and pulled into a 76-76 tie.

A pair of 3-pointers by Hayes helped give Washington an 87-80 lead. But Arenas got sloppy, Lue made two shots from the arc and Johnson sank a jumper as Atlanta climbed back into a 93-93 tie with 3:58 to go.

"Watching film on them, they are in every game," Butler said. "They are playing real good basketball and we knew it was going to be a dogfight. But in the end, we just got stops and got rebounds and to loose balls and were able to pull out a win."

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