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Butler stars as Wizards pound Heat

Mar 22, 2008 - 5:21 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- A dreadful season just keeps getting worse for the Miami Heat. When they aren't setting franchise lows, they are getting beat by their former players.

Caron Butler had 25 points for the Washington Wizards en route to a 103-86 victory over the Heat on Friday.

Antawn Jamison added 22 points and 10 rebounds for his 39th double-double of the season - trailing only Orlando's Dwight Howard in that category - for Washington, which won for the fifth time in six games and registered its first season-series win against Miami since the 2002-03 season.

"Once we get our closers back, we're going to be a force to be reckoned with," Butler said of Washington's injured players, namely three-time All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas. "Gilbert is looking great right now in (pick-up games).

"Antawn has been doing a great job with myself being out (before) and Gilbert and, once we get it all together, we feel like we can compete with anybody."

On Wednesday, Miami set franchise lows for points in a game, a half (26) and shot a franchise-worst 26 percent (20-for-78) in a 96-54 loss to the Toronto Raptors. It was the third-lowest point total in the shot-clock era, and just five points off the NBA-record low.

Butler - who missed 16 games with a hip injury - got it going in the first half against the team he spent the first two seasons of his career with before he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O'Neal in the summer of 2004.

"My heart is still here," said Butler, a fan favorite during his tenure in Miami. "So, it was great coming back here and, obviously, getting a win."

With the Wizards holding a 26-20 advantage after one quarter, Butler hit all three of his shots and scored nine points during the second period, helping stretch Washington's lead to 52-39 at halftime.

"He (Butler) had a terrific first half," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "He is really focused on being a terrific player, passer and rebounder. A guy that can push and make plays. It's just a work ethic. It's just a sincere passion to be one of the best players in the league, and that is what he has become."

Despite some inspired play, that lead proved insurmountable for the Heat, who suited up five players who have played in the D-League this month and weren't in the same class as a Wizards' team fighting for the playoffs.

"The D-League was represented real well out there," said Heat guard Blake Ahearn, who made his NBA debut. "I'm going to play hard regardless of whether it is my first game or I've been here for 500 games."

Ricky Davis hit a 3-pointer to narrow the lead to 10 to begin the third period, but Butler answered with one of his own just 94 seconds into the half.

The shot began a stretch in which the Wizards outscored the Heat, 35-20, for the remainder of the quarter to establish a commanding 87-62 advantage heading into the final quarter.

"We found a groove at both ends of the floor," Jordan said. "We moved the ball. We made some terrific plays with some good passing and we finished at the rim. Antawn made some threes that really changed the game in the sense where they had to come in and chase him."

Bobby Jones scored 15 points to pace the Heat, who fell to 6-29 at home this season.

However, the 17-point defeat did not dampen the enthusiasm of Heat assistant coach Ron Rothstein, who is serving as Miami's coach while Pat Riley resumes his role as team president and continues to scout the college talent pool during the NCAA Tournament.

"That last group was great; I loved it," Rothstein said. "I told them in the locker room that they had a lot to be proud of. That's the kind of effort and enthusiasm this franchise is entitled to."

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