98 - 67 Final
  for this game

Mason returns home to torch former team

Feb 22, 2009 - 5:06 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Roger Mason felt right at home on the last night of his San Antonio Spurs' eight-game, 21-day road trip. Of course, that's probably because he was, in fact, home.

Mason returned to his hometown and his old arena and torched the Washington Wizards on Saturday night, leading the Spurs to a 93-65 rout to close out their longest road swing of the season.

"I was pleased with the fact that at the end of a trip; we had a lot of energy and a lot of aggressiveness," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Wins on the road are always the sweetest. We're always pleased to be going home with a win."

The journeyman guard fell just four points short of his career high, putting up 25 points and knocking down five 3-pointers as San Antonio cruised, finishing a solid 5-3 on the trip. It was only fitting that he erupted in this particular game - after all, he grew up in Washington, D.C. and played the last two seasons with the Wizards.

"Definitely wasn't just another game," Mason said. "It's always exciting playing in front of family and friends. (I watched the) Washington Bullets growing up here, then playing for them for two years. I'll see these guys in the summer."

It seems Mason has finally found a landing spot in San Antonio after a career that has taken him to four different cities and three countries since he was selected in the second round of the 2002 draft. He began his career with the Chicago Bulls, then headed north of the border in a mid-season trade to the Toronto Raptors.

He remained out of the country for the next two years, playing for Olympiacos of the Greek League for a year, followed by a stint with Hapoel Jerusalem of the Israel League before he returned to the states for two seasons with the Wizards.

"It's nice. I'm the hometown kid," Mason said. "I did it the hard way. I didn't have anything given to me. It was nice."

In his first season with San Antonio, he has finally found his role - and the Spurs have needed him, given injuries to star guards Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker earlier this season.

With Ginobili out once again - this time for two to three weeks with a leg injury - Mason was called upon once again Saturday, and he delivered

"I knew he wanted to play well. He did just that," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. "He came out (and) I think he pressed a little at first."

After a nine-point second quarter to help put his club on top, he continued to pile on after the break as the Spurs pulled away. With about five minutes remaining in the third, he and Michael Finley drained back-to-back threes to open up a 13-point lead.

Later in the period, he barreled his way inside and drew a foul, knocked down both free throws, then swiped Juan Dixon on the other end and finished with a short jumper.

"It was fun - last game of a long road trip, we wanted to make sure we matched their intensity," Mason said. "They've been playing well lately. Just continue the process. Our goal is we're trying to win a championship."

He put the finishing touches on his night with another 3-pointer with two minutes left in the third, giving San Antonio a commanding, 76-56 edge.

"When you combine pretty good defense and have the good fortune to make the threes that we made, that makes for a hell of a night," Popovich said. "Those two combined really helped us get away from them."

Another couple of buckets could have given him a new career high, but then again, the Spurs didn't need him. Even without him - and most of the rest of the starting lineup - the Spurs never let up as things got uglier and uglier for Washington as the game moved along.

"Anything that you can use to justify a performance like tonight comes out as an excuse," Washington interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "I'm not going to let us make excuses. We had a bad night and didn't play well. We didn't have much in our tank, and we couldn't get anything done."

The Wizards managed just 10 points in the fourth quarter as they put up their worst scoring output of the season.

Finley scored 19 points for the Spurs, while Tim Duncan added 12 and 11 boards. Caron Butler led the Wizards with 24 points and seven boards, but his team shot just 33 percent (27-of-81) and was 0-of-9 from the arc.

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