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Butler's 18 points help Wizards defeat Bulls

Apr 6, 2008 - 4:15 AM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Caron Butler helped the Washington Wizards improve their playoff positioning while putting the Chicago Bulls slim postseason hopes on life support.

Butler scored eight of his 18 points in a decisive third quarter as the Wizards posted a 99-87 victory over the Bulls on Saturday.

Brendan Haywood scored a career-high 25 points and added 10 rebounds and Darius Songaila and reserve Roger Mason each scored 14 for Washington (40-37), which is one game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers (39-38) for fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The 76ers dropped a 92-85 decision to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.

"The third quarter was big for us tonight," Haywood said. "The guards and Roger Mason really picked it up, that was what pushed us through."

Chicago (30-46) saw its playoff hopes slide almost completely down the drain, as it fell 5 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Hawks (36-41) with only six games to play. The Bulls were led by Ben Gordon's 18 points off the bench and 16 from Larry Hughes.

"Basketball is not fun when you are not winning," Gordon said. "It's tough to go through this. I have never faced a season like this in my career."

Butler helped fuel a 23-10 third-quarter run that pushed the visitors to a 76-64 lead entering the final period.

"With the personnel we have, we can cause match-up problems," Butler said. "Things came together for us in the third quarter. It's a good win with Gilbert (Arenas) and Antawn (Jamison) out tonight."

The Wizards were able to get the double-digit win despite playing without All-Stars Jamison (shoulder) and Arenas (knee).

"The key was a balanced attack," said Wizards assistant Mike O'Koren, who spoke at the postgame press conference in place of coach Eddie Jordan who felt ill all game and received fluids in the locker room. "That is what we needed with both Antawn and Gilbert out of our lineup."

After Chicago took a 51-44 lead after the break on a jumper by Tyrus Thomas 1:40 into the third, the Wizards started rolling. Butler and Songaila each scored eight points in the quarter and Haywood added seven for Washington, which shot 48 percent (39-of-82).

"Our starters got the momentum changed in the third quarter," Mason said. "At that point, we just wanted to push out the lead."

The Wizards also hammered the Bulls on the boards, accruing a 53-28 advantage on the glass. They were especially effective after intermission, gaining a 15-3 rebounding margin - including six on the offensive boards.

"It's tough to compete against anyone when they outrebound you by 25," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "They just dominated us inside, we had no answer for Haywood who has always given us fits."

Thomas scored 12 for the Bulls, who shot 43 percent (33-of-77) and have lost six of their last nine games.

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