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Stevenson scores 28, Butler returns as Wizards win

Mar 29, 2007 - 4:11 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Caron Butler gave the Washington Wizards the lift they needed.

Butler returned to the lineup after missing six games with a left knee contusion and scored 21 points as the Washington Wizards held on for a 111-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

DeShawn Stevenson scored a season-high 28 points, including the decisive basket down the stretch for Washington (38-32), which just returned from a 1-4 road trip and almost blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead.

"This was one of the toughest games to play this season, coming back from a long West Coast road trip and playing our first game at home," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "It was good to get Caron back. He got going through some of his steals and his defensive activity."

With the victory, Washington (38-32) regained first place over Miami Heat (38-33) in the Southeast Division. The Heat lost to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Butler shot 9-of-17 and added six rebounds and four assist in 40 minutes.

"I was fatigued for the most part, but I wasn't going to tell coach that," Butler said. "I was just trying to continue to gut it out and try to establish a rhythm. Once a couple shots got to falling in, my teammates were really looking for me to get me into an offensive flow and everything started feeling good. Probably in like the third quarter, I started feeling real good.

"I felt rested but I didn't have a rhythm. I was just trying to find a rhythm. I haven't picked up a ball or anything in a while. My main focus was just my health and resting. Mentally and physically I felt great, but from a basketball standpoint, a little rusty. But things started falling in for me."

The highlight of his night was a three-quarter court heave at the end of the third period.

"It felt good. Released it. It went in," Butler said. "Got the crowd really into it, teammates jumping around and everything. It was a good momentum swing. ... Hopefully, it will make SportsCenter or something. I'm going to stay up all night and watch and see what happens."

Stevenson, who was one point shy of his career high, stroked a jumper from the right wing with 77 seconds left to snap a 103-103 tie. He finished 11-of-18 from the floor, including 3-of-6 from the arc.

"It was a tough road trip and flying, getting back, at the same time, it was a tough night, but I got a rhythm early and it helped out," Stevenson said.

"DeShawn has been playing phenomenally of late, pretty much throughout the whole season," Jamison said. "When we need him to score, he's come through scoring-wise. We always know what he does on the defensive end. I'm just glad to see him playing the type of basketball that he's playing and him being a big piece of this puzzle for this team, so you can't do nothing but be happy for the way that he's been playing and what he means to this team. Tonight, offensively, he just played phenomenally well."

Six free throws by Washington offset seven points from Andre Iguodala over the final 21 seconds, giving the Wizards their first series sweep over Philadelphia since 1971.

Iguodala missed a last-second off-balance 3-pointer that could have sent the game into overtime.

Gilbert Arenas scored 20 points and Jamison added 14 and 11 rebounds for the Wizards, who closed the first three periods on 9-2, 20-9 and 18-6 runs, respectively.

Iguodala finished with 26 points and a career high-tying 15 assists and Samuel Dalembert added a season-high 24 points on 12-of-15 shooting for Philadelphia, which has lost eight of 11.

"Obviously, we try to put the ball in his hands to score the ball, but I think he's obviously a guy who can score and distribute the ball at the same time," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "I think that's evidenced by him having 15 assists. We try to put the ball in his hands and allow him to create something off the dribble."

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