for this game

Butler, Wizards stun Cavs, stay in series

May 1, 2008 - 2:36 AM By Jeff Brewer PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Caron Butler hit a driving layup with 3.9 seconds left as the Washington Wizards stayed alive with an 88-87 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Five of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Wednesday.

The Cavaliers lead the series 3-2 with Game Six in Washington on Friday.

LeBron James had an opportunity to trump Butler's score and win the series, but Cleveland's superstar drove into a clogged lane and his shot rolled off the rim as the horn sounded.

"I was able to get to the rim, but I just missed the layup," James said.

But when asked point blank if he thought he was fouled on the drive, "The King" replied, "Yes."

Butler's reaction to the victory was delayed.

"When I saw the ball that (James) shot rolling on the rim, I thought, 'This is our season right here,'" Butler said. "Then everyone started jumping around and celebrating, but I didn't celebrate yet because of what happened in the Philadelphia game.

"I thought they might have blown a whistle and wanted to review it, but once I saw everyone going to the locker room, I started celebrating."

In the process, the Wizards picked up their first win in Cleveland since 2006 despite playing without superstar guard Gilbert Arenas, who will miss the remainder of the postseason to nurse his surgically repaired left knee.

Butler struck for a career playoff high of 32 points and added nine rebounds and five assists.

"Caron is strong enough and skilled enough to beat good defense and he's smart enough and veteran enough to know when to make a play," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said.

"(Butler) made a tough shot," James said. "He played a phenomenal game tonight. He put them on his back."

James, after shooting 2-of-8 in the first half, finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists and scored 13 fourth-quarter points. But it was not enough.

"We put the ball in our best player's hands and we told him to go make a play, like he has for us many times before," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said when asked about his team's final possession.

A three-point play by Delonte West gave the Cavaliers an 87-82 lead with 1:47 to play, but the Wizards scored the final six points of the game to seal the win. The Cavaliers missed their final five field-goal attempts and shot 36 percent for the game.

"I know I took one bad (3-point attempt with 1:17 to play)," James said. "I can't take a shot like that late in the game."

Butler had nine fourth-quarter points, including a critical putback at 1:05.

"Gilbert's a great player, he's our closer, he's a franchise guy," Butler said. "But during the course of the season, we learned to play without him."

A loose-ball foul on Cleveland's Joe Smith put Antonio Daniels on the line with 43 seconds left, and Daniels sank two throws to make it 87-86 and set up Butler's heroics.

After Zydrunas Ilgauskas blocked Darius Songaila, Daniel Gibson fed James for a two-handed jam, giving Cleveland a 74-73 lead with 7:38 to play.

Washington outscored Cleveland, 16-6, to end the third quarter and led 69-65 heading to the fourth. Six second-chance points were big for the Wizards in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers used an 11-0 run midway through the third to go on top 59-53 at 5:15. James was instrumental, scoring seven and assisting Ilgauskas on a layup.

Despite 13 turnovers, Washington led 45-43 at halftime thanks to poor shooting by Cleveland, which shot 5-of-16 in the first quarter.

"We missed 15 to 20 layups," James said.

At 3:20 of the first quarter, James and Songaila became tangled up on the baseline and, as Songaila pulled his arm loose, he clipped James in the face with the back of his hand.

The Wizards' forward was tagged with a personal and a technical foul, starting a war of words. Cleveland's Anderson Varejao and Washington's DeShawn Stevenson were assessed technical fouls with coaches and officials needed to separate the teams.

Washington had one turnover and sank 13-of-16 free throws in the second half. The Wizards also had seven offensive rebounds.