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Butler leads Wizards over Knicks with emphatic dunk

Jan 18, 2007 - 5:01 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- With superstar Gilbert Arenas drawing all the attention, Caron Butler did the damage for the Washington Wizards.

Butler slammed in the go-ahead basket with two seconds remaining as the Wizards scrambled on the final possession en route to a dramatic 99-98 victory over the New York Knicks.

Butler had 27 points and a career-high 10 assists for Washington, which won despite Arenas shooting just 4-of-14 from the field as he fought through swarming double-teams all night. He was playing his first game since netting a Verizon Center-record 51 points against Utah on Monday.

"We have people who can score the ball so it is difficult on other teams when teams double-team me," Arenas said. "It was easy because we always had 4-on-3 when they double-teamed me."

With the win, the Wizards improved to 16-3 at home.

"We feel so confident in the Verizon Center that anything is possible," Arenas said. "If we are down by four points with five seconds left, we feel like we can get a 3-point shot and a foul to tie the game. Our comfort level at home is at an all-time high right now."

Trailing, 98-97, with 12 seconds remaining, Washington looked confused down the stretch, but was able to recover just in time. With the Knicks forcing the ball out of Arenas' hands, DeShawn Stevenson drove from the left wing and found a wide-open Butler under the basket for the game-winning flush.

"So much of the focus was on Gilbert and that enabled us to get open - myself and Antawn (Jamison) and DeShawn made a great basketball play," Butler said. "We made eye contact and he just made a great decision.

"Antawn did a great job of penetrating and threw it to DeShawn. DeShawn did a great job of penetrating, and we made eye contact, and he threw it to me on the backdoor slip. I just finished, went up strong, dunked and got back in transition and the game was over."

On the ensuing possession, Knicks guard Jamal Crawford misfired from halfcourt as time expired.

New York coach Isiah Thomas said his team was unfortunate.

"We got it out of his hands and we got them to make a play out of a scramble situation and they made a great play out a scramble situation," Thomas said. "They did the right thing at the end of the game. The guys gave a good effort, but we didn't come up with the ball."

With the defense keying on Arenas all night, Butler took over the game with a mix of jumpers and drives, shooting 11-of-22 from the field. He also was a playmaker for the Wizards, finding open teammates under the basket and shooters on the perimeter.

"We just continued to distribute the ball," Butler said. "Gilbert did a great job of making sure a guy committed to him, and we did a good job of making decisions and basketball plays out of the double-teams. For the most part, we had defenders running at us and we made great decisions. It was good ball movement."

Prior to Butler's heroics, Crawford gave the Knicks a short-lived lead, nailing an acrobatic leaner with 12 seconds left to give New York a 98-97 advantage. However, with Knicks' struggling defensively, they left too much time on the clock for the explosive Wizards.

"We have other guys on this team that can play basketball - myself, Antawn - guys that can score 20 or 30 a night," Butler said. "So, you got to just man up and guard (us)."

Quentin Richardson scored a season-high 35 points and Eddy Curry had 18 and eight rebounds for New York, which shot 45 percent (39-of-87).

"They were taking away Eddy Curry on the inside, double-teaming him, and we did a good job of swinging the ball and (Richardson) was knocking down shots," Thomas said. "The attention that Eddy was drawing opened up the perimeter and guys were making sure we moved the basketball and did a good job of getting it into the right person's hands."

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