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Mason, Jamison help Wizards hold off Timberwolves

Dec 12, 2007 - 4:56 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Roger Mason Jr. is making the most of his opportunity.

Mason scored 17 points off the bench and Antawn Jamison added 22 as the Washington Wizards coasted to a 102-88 victory over the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

Caron Butler added 20 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which had six players in double figures while improving to 8-5 without All-Star point guard Gilbert Arenas.

Arenas is out for the next two months after having knee surgery and Mason, who was born in Washington, D.C., has taken full advantage of the extended playing time he has received.

"He is running some point, yet he is finding a way to score and to be aggressive," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan added. "He is playing very smart, very fluid basketball. He communicates well with me and his teammates. He has a terrific shot, which you need in this league. He has range. He can drive the ball and he picks up defensively, so he is a solid player."

"We're playing great team basketball," Butler said. "We're playing on the same page and everybody is clicking on all cylinders. We're getting a nice contribution from out bench. Roger Mason is playing really good basketball, and it's nice to see because he's a hometown kid."

Mason shot 5-of-8 from the floor and fell one point short of his career high in 25 minutes off the bench.

"The biggest thing for me is knowing that I am going to get consistent minutes," said Mason, who is a fourth-year pro out of Virginia. "It's tough to go out there sometimes when you're in and out, but now with Gilbert being hurt there is consistent time for everyone to contribute. I think it is showing, and it's paying off for me."

"We are getting familiar with each other and we know we're not going to have Gilbert for a few months but everyone is fitting into their roles," Mason said.

It has truly been a team effort to make up for the loss of Arenas though, as Jamison grabbed 13 rebounds to record his career-best seventh straight double-double, and Brendan Haywood also had a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Jamison's double-double was his 15th of the season, the most among Eastern Conference forwards. Boston's Kevin Garnett ranks second among forwards in the East with 11 double-doubles.

The Wizards' balanced attack overshadowed a great game from Craig Smith, who scored a career-high 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting for Minnesota, which fell to 1-8 on the road.

"I was just feeling good out there," said Smith, who shook off a jammed left wrist during the game. "Ever since they put me in the position to start, I just come out and try to be aggressive. I was just trying to get us going off to a good start because sometimes we get off to slow starts.

"I just felt like guys were looking for me - nothing different than what I'm always doing. Guys were looking for me, and I was feeling pretty good, especially going after offensive rebounds."

The Wizards led by as many as 20 points at 66-46 with 8:34 left in the third, and held a 83-69 advantage after three quarters. But Minnesota used a 14-4 run to slice the lead to 85-79 after a pair from free throws by Corey Brewer with 8:26 left in the final period.

Washington responded with a 7-0 run, as Haywood hit a hook shot and Jamison converted a three-point play to stretch the lead to 11 at 92-79 with 5:50 left.

Minnesota, which posted an impressive 100-93 upset of Phoenix on Wednesday, didn't get get closer than nine thereafter.

"They were too much for us tonight," said Brewer, who had nine points and nine rebounds. "We made a run and they sustained our run and put the game out of reach."

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