for this game

Butler helps Wizards notch first win of season

Nov 11, 2007 - 11:15 PM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- All it took for the Washington Wizards to win their first game was a trip to Philips Arena.

Caron Butler led all five starters in double figures with 24 points and Antawn Jamison recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 23 and 15 rebounds as the Wizards posted a 101-90 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon.

Washington began the season by dropping its first five games and was facing the prospect of setting a franchise record for futility to start a season with a loss in this contest.

But luckily for the Wizards, they took on the Hawks, owners of the NBA's longest playoff drought - eight years.

"We knew we needed to win this game," Wizards center Brendan Haywood said. "We didn't want go down 0-6. We knew we had to play better."

"It felt great to get our first win," Butler added. "It feels like you got King Kong off your back."

Atlanta, which helped Washington snap a six-game losing streak last season, wasted no time letting the Wizards end their season-long drought in this one.

"Eventually, you have to win one," Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas said. "You look at the schedule and you have some teams that you think you can beat, mentally, you have to prepare for it."

"You had a team that was hungry for a win," Hawks head coach Mike Woodson said. "They came in here and played like they really wanted to win, and we didn't tonight."

Washington opened the contest by scoring 22 of the first 36 points, including 11 from Haywood before taking a 51-40 advantage at the half on 14 second-quarter points from Butler.

"It was big to get out to a fast start no matter what team we were facing," Haywood said. "We couldn't afford to hang our heads down."

Jamison took control of the game to start the second half, scoring four points in a 9-3 run to start the quarter, including a jumper to cap the spurt to give the Wizards a 60-43 edge with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter.

For one day, the Wizards looked like the club that made the playoffs last season, sharing the basketball and making shots at will against the slumbering Hawks' defense.

Washington, which set a season high by dishing out 26 assists, also kept better care of the basketball - turning the ball over a season-low 12 times.

"I thought the difference was us playing with a lot of positive energy and sharing the basketball," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We never faltered and we played 48 minutes of hard basketball."

Meanwhile, Atlanta showed glimpses of why it hasn't been in the playoffs since the 1998-99 campaign.

In front of sellout crowds in its first two home games, Atlanta dispatched the high-octane Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns - the clubs with the two best records in the NBA last season before getting blown out by the Boston Celtics on Friday.

But in an all-too-familiar script from last campaign, the Hawks squandered the momentum from those two home triumphs and opened flat in front of the small home crowd - scoring just four of the game's first 14 points before trailing by as many as 19 in the third quarter.

"We struggled from the perimeter, and especially the 3-point line," said Atlanta guard Tyronn Lue, whose team was a miserable 3-of-20 from the arc. "We were getting open looks, but couldn't get anything to stay down."

Atlanta attempted to rally, cutting the lead to five on Josh Smith's two free throws with 3:57 remaining. But it was too little, too late.

"Even when we cut it to five, we still weren't in the game, based on how we defended and rebounded the ball," Woodson said. "Every loose ball, they came up with. We have been scrapping.

"The two games we won, and even in the New Jersey and Detroit games, we scrapped down to the end. Tonight, we were just too lethargic. We were a step behind everything."

Josh Smith had 23 points and Joe Johnson added 22 for the Hawks, who lost for the first time at home this season.

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