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Butler returns to lineup and leads Wizards past Hornets

Dec 27, 2007 - 3:50 AM By Derek Smith PA Sports Contributing Writer

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Caron Butler scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half and Roger Mason recorded career highs of 24 points and six 3-pointers to lead the Washington Wizards to a 108-104 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

Antawn Jamison had 26 points and 14 rebounds and Brendan Haywood added 20 and nine as the Wizards (14-13) snapped a three-game losing streak and posted four 20-point scorers for the first time since March 2006 against the Chicago Bulls.

"It was disappointing losing three in a row," Jamison said, "but tonight was a very important game. It was a divisional game and we didn't want to fall below .500. We stayed poised and calm and were able to execute offensively."

Butler previously scored a career-high 39 points in Washington's 114-111 win over Charlotte on November 21, the night the team lost All-Star Gilbert Arenas to a knee injury. Butler entered the game averaging 20.2 points - his most against any Eastern Conference team - in 10 career games vs. Charlotte.

"I took it upon myself to get a little more aggressive in the second half," Butler said. "My teammates found me in rhythm and good things were able to happen."

In this one, Butler, who missed Saturday's 93-85 loss to the Indiana Pacers with an ankle sprain, shot 10-of-19 and added seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Mason, who scored his previous career high of 20 points on Saturday against the Pacers, was 9-of-16 from the floor and attempted nine 3-pointers.

"I thought Roger (Mason) was phenomenal at looking to score and running the show," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "We had a great first quarter because he kept the tempo and was running the team well. His growth and confidence has been really big for us."

Washington closed the third quarter on an 18-6 run to forge an 81-74 lead. Butler scored eight of his 12 third-quarter points during the surge, including a 3-pointer and a three-point play and Mason drained a pair of shots from the arc during the run.

"We wanted to come out and start strong tonight and be focused," Mason said. "It was a total team effort tonight."

Charlotte closed within 95-90 with 4:50 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Derek Anderson, but Butler then banked in a fast-break layup and drew a foul. He missed the free throw, but Haywood tipped in the miss - it actually went in off the hands of Charlotte's Gerald Wallace - and Butler drained another jumper for a 101-90 lead with 3:57 remaining.

"The thing we've done so well in the past is making stops when we needed stops," Wallace said. "And tonight we didn't do that. Washington was able to knock down shots that were like back-breakers to us."

Wallace scored 32 points and Jason Richardson added 27 and a season high tying six 3-pointers for the Bobcats, who have lost two straight.

Despite trailing, 41-30, after the first quarter and allowing the Wizards to shoot 55 percent (22-of-40) in the first half, including 8-of-11 from the arc, Charlotte trailed by just 58-55 at the half.

Mason made all four 3-pointers en route to 16 first-half points for Washington, but Richardson made 5-of-6 shots from the arc and tallied 17 points for the Bobcats, who also got 17 from Wallace.

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