Wizards get by Jazz and finally get in win columnNov 13, 2008 - 6:41 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Caron Butler had 27 points and Antawn Jamison added 21 as the Washington Wizards avoided their first 0-6 start in franchise history with a 95-87 victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
Jamison's 3-pointer with 2:00 remaining gave the Wizards an 84-82 lead they did not relinquish. Butler's 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining sealed the victory.
"It was a sigh of relief," Butler said. "I was like, 'Man, I'm about to take this shot. I need this in my life.' I've had migraines and everything. I had to get some sleep finally. I can sleep well tonight. King Kong was on my back."
Nick Young scored four of his 10 points in the final 1:18 and rookie JaVale McGee had a career-high 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 28 minutes off the bench for the Wizards.
"Without his contribution, we would not have won this game," Butler said of McGee, a rangy, 7-footer from Nevada. "I felt young again watching him. At one point, Antawn saw JaVale run up the court and he said, 'You saw that?' And I said, 'Yeah, yeah, let's do what he do.' That's the spark young guys are supposed to give us, though. They are supposed to make us feel better and add that spark. He did a great job of doing that, and that's the effort we need from him night in and night out.
"I think he can be very key to our success."
Jamison, who had eight rebounds and three steals, seconded that sentiment.
"What I like about him is he doesn't back down. He finds a way to get it done," Jamison said. "Those are things you can't teach or try to make happen. Those are things that come natural, and those are the guys who get it. For him to control the paint the way he's controlling the paint -- offensively putting the pressure on the defense - he's opening up some opportunities for Caron and myself.
"Saying that for a rookie, playing on a team that's been in the playoffs the last couple of seasons, and due to injuries but getting a significant amount of minutes, really says a lot about the type of player that he is and what he means to this team, as well."
McGee remained very low key about all the fanfare.
"It just comes natural," he said. "I just want to work hard and do anything I can to help us win some games."
Carlos Boozer's baseline jumper gave the Jazz a 79-77 lead, but Jamison responded with a finger roll at the other end for a 79-79 tie with 3:12 remaining.
"Realizing that it was a sense of urgency to be in a close game and not let it slip away -- find a way to get it done," Jamison said. "Put what has happened the last five games behind you and get a very big win against a pretty good team really says a lot."
Boozer led Utah with 20 points and seven rebounds before fouling out with 19 seconds left.
"We were right there with a chance to win the game," Boozer said. "We just made a couple mistakes here or there that cost us the game. A couple calls went their way, but we're on the road, you've got to expect that."
Andrei Kirilenko's two-handed slam gave the Jazz a 76-72 lead with 6:20 left.
Boozer, who was leading the Jazz with 18 points at the time, picked up his fourth foul with 1:26 left in the third quarter while defending the energetic McGee.
"I was impressed with him," Boozer said. "He is very long and athletic. He played well tonight."
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan elaborated on McGee's impact.
"He was a big factor," Sloan said. "He blocked shots and made it tough for us to get the ball inside. That's what happens when players work hard. They make themselves better and they make their teams better."
C.J. Miles capped a personal 5-0 run with a flashy, baseline reverse slam for a 50-50 tie early in the third quarter. He finished with a season-high 16 points.
Jamison's baseline jumper gave Washington a 40-38 lead with 3:45 remaining in the second quarter, but the Wizards turned the ball over on their next two possessions.
The Wizards still managed to close the first half with a 10-3 run for a 46-41 lead at the break. Butler had four points during the spurt and McGee, who shot 4-of-4 in the first half, capped the run with a windmill dunk.
Miles made a layup and two 3-pointers to help the Jazz take a 17-11 lead.
McGee scored six of the Wizards' last eight points of the first quarter.
"Sometimes we've been through this and done it before and it becomes routine, but when you see the guy blocking shots and catching alley-oops and getting the crowd into it and chest-bumping everybody, it kind of trickles down to the rest of the team, and that's something that we need right now," Jamison said. "To be that long and athletic, it's tough to guard that. With out offense, we spread the floor and he has all that paint to create.
"And on the defensive end, I keep telling him, 'You're so long, let them come to you.' He can really frustrate a guy down there in the paint. And every time he's out there on the court, he's improving, he's getting it."
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan concurred.
"We saw his learning curve in training camp," Jordan said. "We saw that he was a quick learner and he like to stick his nose in there. He has fantastic athletic ability with his length. He has an athletic base that is off the charts. When you stick you nose in, you can learn, and you can retain. It results in a nice product."
Besides getting the first victory out of the way, Jordan thought defeating such a quality opponent can produce future results.
"What we saw tonight is what we can become and what we can be if we work hard for 48 minutes," Jordan said. "We respect that team and that system more than any other team in the NBA. Obviously, we respect all of the other teams, but that one is on the top of our list. That was a quality performance against a quality opponent. We hope that is a sign of what we can do on a nightly basis.
"Every players on that team is a physical player and they try and take your space away. That was our pregame emphasis - we need to take their space away and initiate the contact."
The Jazz were without center 2007 All-Star center Mehmet Okur, who was in Turkey for family reasons.
WASHINGTON 95 FINAL
Nov 12 10:26 PM
WASHINGTON 65 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 12 9:49 PM
WASHINGTON 46 HALFTIME
Nov 12 9:03 PM
WASHINGTON 23 END, 1ST QTR
Nov 12 8:36 PM
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