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Jamison helps Wizards handle Kings

Mar 29, 2008 - 7:22 AM By Tom Galland PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SACRAMENTO, California (Ticker) - The Washington Wizards kept their playoff climb going by rallying in one of the league's toughest buildings.

Antawn Jamison scored 25 points and corralled 12 rebounds as the Wizards rallied from a 16-point deficit to defeat the Sacramento Kings, 114-108, at Arco Arena on Friday night.

DeShawn Stevenson shook off a first-half ankle sprain to score 15 of his 20 points and All-Star Caron Butler added 18 to key Washington's comeback effort.

"Without Gilbert (Arenas), we need other people to step up," said Stevenson, who hit 5-of-6 shots after halftime. "I took on the challenge - Darius (Songaila), Roger Mason (also did). That's what we need to get better. We're winning games. People are surprised by this."

"Our guys understand that 48 minutes is pure gold," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "Every minute counts for us. This is a tribute to our leadership - Antawn, Caron Butler, A.D. (Antonio Daniels), DeShawn Stevenson. Sometimes, coaching is overrated because they just took over the game and got it done."

The Wizards (38-34) closed to within two games of the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (40-32) and home-court advantage in the first round in the Eastern Conference.

"If we continue doing what we're doing, things might look in our favor as far as getting (the No. 4 seed)," Jamison said. "But we're not worried about that. We just want to continue to improve and do the things we have to in order to be successful down the stretch."

Washington, which has won six straight meetings in the series, trailed by as many as 16 points after intermission before taking over.

Butler drove in for highlight-reel dunk from the right side to cap a 15-4 run to close within two. Moments later, Butler's steal and breakaway tied it, and Songaila completed a three-point play to give Washington an 82-79 lead heading into the fourth.

"I was looking for something to get myself going," said Butler, who has played in nine games since missing 20 with a hip injury. "I was trying to find something, just try to attack the basket and test the hip out all the way out, full throttle. It ended up being a success and kind of lifted the team in the second half."

"That woke us up," Mason said. "That was a great play. After that, we kept going."

Mason kept the rally going, scoring seven points in a 2 1/2-minute span to open the fourth as the Wizards take a 92-81 lead. But Sacramento battled back behind a 13-4 burst to draw within 96-94.

However, Stevenson nailed two 3-pointers and added a layup to put the Wizards ahead by nine with three minutes left as Sacramento got no closer than three the rest of the way.

"It's a tough loss," Kings coach Reggie Theus said. "Just an absolute breakdown in the game plan in the second half, in terms of (our) defensive gameplan. I saw our energy level drop after Mikki Moore went out of the game, and it kind of snowballed from there."

Ron Artest scored 28 for Sacramento, which shot 55 percent in the first half, including six 3-pointers to forge a 58-47 advantage at the break.

"From a team standpoint, that was a selfish half of basketball in the second half," said Kings guard Kevin Martin, who scored 25 points. "In the first half, everybody was moving around and touching the ball. "In the second half, a lot of people were just standing around. We went away from what got us a 16-point lead."

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