for this game

Butler, Wizards cruise past shorthanded Cavaliers

Dec 6, 2007 - 4:45 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers could take some pointers from the Washington Wizards on playing without a superstar.

Caron Butler scored 27 points while Brendan Haywood added 17 and 10 rebounds as the Wizards pounded the shorthanded Cavaliers, 105-86, on Wednesday.

Antawn Jamison chipped 17 points and 12 rebounds and rookie Nick Young scored 14 for the Wizards, who shot 52 percent (43-of-82) from the floor.

Washington improved to 6-4 without All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas, who is out the next three months after having surgery on his left knee for the second time.

"We miss Gil in the worst way," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We miss Etan (Thomas). We miss Oleksiy (Pecherov). We have to hold on to something - Antawn and Caron's leadership and what they do on the floor. At the same time, guys are stepping up."

"We don't feel sorry for anybody," Haywood said. "We struggle to have enough players for practice. With Gilbert Arenas out, we have 30 points missing from our lineup. ... We're basically playing nine guys. We can't feel sorry for anybody. We're just as shorthanded as anyone in the league. They miss their superstar. Obviously, we miss ours as well."

The Wizards got a bit of revenge against the Cavaliers, who swept them in the playoffs while Arenas and Butler were hurt.

"The win felt good," Butler said. "It felt good to get a win against Cleveland after they swept us in the playoffs - sitting on the sidelines with Agent Zero, going through that depressing stage. Whenever you see them, you're itching to play against them."

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers struggled once again without the league's leading scorer, LeBron James. James sat out a fourth straight game due to a sprained left index finger and watched in street clothes as Cleveland remained winless without him.

"Obviously, with him, it's a lot easier (for the defense) out there," said Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who got into early foul trouble and finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. "More than anything, as a team, offensively, we've really been struggling, our shot selection, our decision-making - it's just not been good."

"I've seen the guy (James) the last two playoffs," Jamison said. "I didn't miss the guy at all. It actually felt pretty good. I'm good friends with him. I wish him a speedy recovery. I'm just kind of glad it wasn't tonight."

Daniel Gibson, Drew Gooden and Shannon Brown scored 13 points apiece for Cleveland, which shot 44 percent (24-of-54) from the floor.

The Cavaliers have been painful to watch without James, having lost every game by at least nine points and entered this one averaging just 76.3 points without the three-time All-Star.

Cleveland also is without injured players Larry Hughes (bruised left leg), Donyell Marshall (sprained right wrist) and Cedric Simmons (sprained left ankle).

"Every team goes through that at some point," Ilgauskas said. "Nobody feels sorry for you, so we just have to do the best we can with the guys that we have. Injuries happen, unfortunately and we got hit really early - and bad, too."

While Cleveland has struggled without its best player, Washington is showing it can get by without Arenas, largely because of Butler. On Saturday, he scored 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting with seven assists in a 101-97 win over Toronto.

In this one, the six-year veteran scored 12 of his 27 points in the first half and helped the Wizards outscore the Cavaliers, 31-13, in the second quarter en route to a 53-34 lead at the break.

Butler then scored seven points during a 11-2 third-quarter run that helped Washington take a 64-36 lead with 8:46 left in the third. The Wizards led 69-52 after three periods.

"Early on, we couldn't score, but we couldn't stop anybody, either," Cavaliers forward Ira Newble said.

Cleveland used a 14-7 run in the final period to cut into its 28-point deficit, but it could not get closer then eight points at 88-79 with 5:41 left.

The Wizards responded to the run as Haywood made a layup and Jamison added another to make it 92-79 with 4:50 remaining, and the Wizards led by double digits the rest of the way.

"When you spot a team that many points, especially on the road, it makes it next to impossible to win the game," Ilgauskas said. "All it takes is for them to make a couple of small runs and the game is out of reach."

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