for this game

Stevenson, Wizards blitz Cavs, get back in series

Apr 25, 2008 - 5:33 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The Washington Wizards pulled out all the stops, including having Soulja Boy and Colin Powell in the house, to snap an eight-game playoff losing streak against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

DeShawn Stevenson scored 19 points and Roger Mason added 18 as the Wizards trounced the Cavaliers, 108-72, in Game Three of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Thursday night.

LeBron James had 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the Cavaliers, who hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game Four Sunday in Washington.

Caron Butler scored 17 points and Antawn Jamison added 15 and seven rebounds for the Wizards, who played before a "White Out" crowd of 20,173 at Verizon Center.

Stevenson scored 10 points during the Wizards' 15-4 run to take a 94-63 lead with 6:17 remaining. He made back-to-back 3-pointers and waved his hand in front of his face - his signature move - after each shot. He also made four free throws during the spurt that turned the rout into a blowout.

The Wizards forced the Cavaliers into 23 turnovers and converted them into 30 points en route to their largest margin of victory in franchise playoff history. Washington also held Cleveland to a franchise playoff-low point total for an opponent.

"They really turned up the pressure defensively," James said. "They caught us off guard at times. ... You can't turn the ball over that many times. We turned the ball over more today than we did in the past two games. That ain't going to cut it on the road, especially in the postseason."

Butler stripped James in the open court and dunked at the other end to give the Wizards a 70-43 lead with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter.

"We were doing a good job of trapping LeBron and getting in the passing lanes," Butler said. "We let the defense dictate our offense. Once we got stops, we were doing a good job of converting in the transition game. We really fed off of our defense."

Butler made a dazzling reverse spin move between Wally Szczerbiak and Zydrunas Ilgauskas and drove for a hanging, double-pump layup over Joe Smith for a 49-31 lead with 51 seconds remaining in the first half.

After Smith made a baby hook, the Wizards led 49-33 at halftime.

Reserve guard Mason started the second quarter and scored seven straight points that gave the Wizards a 29-17 lead.

"I said I was going to bring energy and was able to get it going," Mason said. "My comfort level was there tonight."

After Gilbert Arenas returned to the locker room with a bone bruise in his left knee, the Wizards went on a 6-0 run, capped by Mason's layup for a 45-29 lead with 2:28 remaining in the second quarter.

By the time the Wizards learned that Arenas was done for the night, they had taken control of the game. Arenas started for the first time since November 16 at Minnesota.

He then missed 66 games following a second round of surgery on his left knee and came off the bench in seven games before being inserted in the Wizards' starting lineup Thursday night.

Arenas scored two points on 1-of-2 shooting with three assists and one rebound in 10 minutes.

"He's got two days to get his legs back under him, and I think he's going to be OK for Sunday afternoon," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "He didn't reinjure it. It just aches, it's sore. It may be a pinched nerve, which to us is very manageable."

Stevenson's back-to-back 3-pointers gave Washington a 66-40 lead with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter.

Both teams expressed their mutual dislike early and often. Stevenson and teammate Andray Blatche even went out and got mohawks for the series shift to Washington.

Recording artist Soulja Boy, appropriately, was among the crowd at Verizon Center, which played host to a "White Out" by giving all fans white T-shirts to wear.

"Our fans meant a lot," Jordan said. "We sort of rode the wave. I don't know about the rapper and the haircuts, but our fans and the way we played sort of came together."

Ilgauskas hammered Brendan Haywood, who was ejected from Game Two for a hard foul on James, and drew a technical foul less than three minutes into the game. Butler drew a charge on James' second drive down the lane.

"For me, it's not personal, really," Ilgauskas said of the trash-talking that's been going back and forth between the teams. "I want to win this series because that's what we're supposed to do. You cannot let your personal whatever you feel get in the way of basketball because that can only hurt you.

"You just don't want to give up any and-ones. You don't want to hurt anybody but, when you see somebody's about to get a layup, you want to put them on the foul line. We're both bad free-throw shooting teams so it's a given if you see somebody open, you've got to foul them."

After James' jumper from the corner knotted the score at 10-10, Ben Wallace decked Jamison at the other end. Wallace then assisted James on a dunk for a 12-10 lead - the Cavaliers' last of the game.

The crowd booed vociferously every time the ball was touched by James, who failed to convert a three-point play over Darius Songaila as the physical first quarter wound down.

The boos grew louder for James as the game progressed. After he made the first of two free throws with 30.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the crowd chanted "Overrated! Overrated! Overrated!"

James missed the second free throw, then responded with a soaring Julius Erving-like slam that pulled Cleveland to 77-51 after three.

James said neither the crowd nor Soulja Boy bothered him.

"I have played in more hostile environments than this crowd," James said. "I have been to the Eastern Conference finals in Detroit. That's a lot more hostile than some crowds that yell 'overrated.' I smiled when that happened. It's not big deal. I have fun with the fans."

James knows his son had fun seeing Soulja Boy if he watched the game.

"I know for sure if my son was watching the game he really enjoyed Soulja Boy at the game," James said. "My son knows every last dance Soulja Boy does and every last song he's ever made, so if my son was watching he enjoyed it."

James, however, couldn't keep a straight face when pressed about his rivalry with Stevenson, who gave Soulja Boy his ticket to the game.

"There's no DeShawn-LeBron rivalry, no, there's no DeShawn-LeBron rivalry," James said with a wide grin.

Butler and Stevenson sat down with 6:07 left in the game - their work completed.

Devin Brown had 10 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench for the Cavaliers, who had only two players score in double figures. Ilgauskas finished with nine.

"Home court has a lot to do with it," said Cavaliers guard Wally Szczerbiak, who had six points on 3-of-9 shooting. "They came out and played with a lot of intensity. They probably weren't feeling too good about themselves the last couple of days and they used that to come out and hit us, so we've got to use that motivation for Sunday.

"It's not personal for me. I just go out there and play and all the histrionics are fun for the fans. The crowd obviously gave them a lot of energy, but we need to worry about ourselves and we need to do a better job of executing and doing what we're capable of doing."


    Apr 24 10:36 PM


    Apr 24 9:59 PM
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    bigbelly Added 5 roots

    Cavaliers 40, Wizards 66  3rd - 5:53Apr 24 9:50 PM


    Apr 24 9:10 PM


    Apr 24 8:35 PM
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    mark Added 5 roots

    Cavaliers vs. WizardsApr 24 12:19 PM