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Butler, Wizards hold off James, Cavaliers

Mar 14, 2008 - 5:01 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) - Caron Butler celebrated his 28th birthday by returning from injury and scoring 18 points to lead the Washington Wizards to a 101-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

Butler, who missed the Wizards' last 16 games with a left hip injury, shot 8-of-18 from the field and grabbed six rebounds. He is one of only three players in the league averaging more than 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.

LeBron James, who led the Cavaliers with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, missed a potential game-winning 3-point attempt that clanged off the front of the rim as the final horn sounded.

"I got a good look at it," James said. "I knew exactly what move I was going to do. I was going to get to the spot I wanted to get to. I just didn't make it."

After securing the win, it was time for the Wizards to head to a birthday bash in the wee hours of the morning to honor Butler, one of only three players in the league averaging more than 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.

"I'm going to go out with the team and the city to celebrate right now," Butler said. "In the second half, I was so fatigued and trying to get my legs back under me, but guys really stepped up and we came together and got a good quality win against a quality team.

"Now I want to join my time with my teammates and the rest of my family tonight. We're shutting K Street down tonight and having a good time out there."

Antawn Jamison, who drew a crucial offensive foul on James with 19.4 seconds left, had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which went 7-9 during the recent stretch without Butler.

"It's a great luxury to have (Caron) out there," Jamison said. "We're not just missing one All-Star but two (Gilbert Arenas). Butler does a lot. He creates easy opportunities for his teammates and (provides) just the intangibles. It was good to see him out there with the little swagger that he has and attacking the rim and defensively being a force.

"We're happy to have him back out there. You can't really key on me as much. Especially when he has the ball, he creates so many easy opportunities for me because teams have to give him so much attention as well."

Butler made 1-of-2 free throws for a 100-96 lead with 13 seconds remaining. Damon Jones answered with a 3-pointer that pulled the Cavaliers to 100-99 with 8 seconds left.

Antonio Daniels made the second of two free throws that extended the Wizards' lead to 101-99 with 7.2 ticks remaining.

DeShawn Stevenson had connected on a 3-pointer that gave the Wizards a 92-83 lead with 4:18 left, but the Cavaliers refused to go away.

Sasha Pavlovic, playing in only his second game after missing 23 with a foot injury, made a 3-pointer that pulled Cleveland to within 93-89 with 2:44 remaining. He had 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting before fouling out with 1:19 remaining.

Pavlovic, who sustained a left foot sprain against the Wizards in Cleveland on January 23, dropped in 19 points in the first half as the Cavaliers led, 54-46, at the break.

James, who had a monstrous alley-oop baseline slam from Delonte West that capped a 22-6 run to give Cleveland a 52-44 lead with 79 seconds left before intermission, had 12 points in the half.

However, Jamison sandwiched two 3-pointers around a 3-pointer by Stevenson that pulled the Wizards into a 57-57 tie early in the third quarter.

The Wizards outshot the Cavaliers, 49 percent (36-of-74) to 42 percent (34-of-81), but Cleveland drilled 13 3-pointers compared to seven for Washington.

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