Butler, Jamison Get the Call

Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler
The selection of Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler reflects the respect other teams have for the way the Wizards performed despite the absence of three-time all-star Gilbert Arenas. (The Washington Post)
By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 1, 2008

The fans who voted for NBA all-star team starters largely overlooked the performances of Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison when making their selections, but the coaches who spent the first half of the season trying to beat the Washington Wizards certainly noticed.

Yesterday, Butler and Jamison learned that they were selected as reserves on the Eastern Conference team for the Feb. 17 game in New Orleans.

It is the third time in the last four seasons that the Wizards will be represented by two players at the league's showcase midseason event. Jamison and guard Gilbert Arenas made it as reserves in 2004-05, and last year Arenas was voted in as a starter while Butler made his first appearance as a reserve.

The selection of Butler and Jamison reflects the respect other teams have for the way the Wizards (24-20) have performed following an 0-5 start and despite the absence of Arenas, a three-time all-star who last played on Nov. 16. Coaches in each conference voted for the reserves and could not choose their own players.

Among East forwards, Butler finished sixth in fan voting behind Boston's Kevin Garnett, Cleveland's LeBron James, Toronto's Chris Bosh, Boston's Paul Pierce and Milwaukee rookie Yi Jianlian. Jamison, who leads East forwards with 26 double-doubles, didn't even crack the top 10.

"I've always felt that the coach's voting is more meaningful," said Jamison, who is averaging 21.1 points and a career-high 10.5 rebounds. "Not to take anything away from the fans, but sometimes that's a popularity contest. The fans vote for who they want to see in the All-Star Game, but to get respect from your peers, from guys who know everything about the X's and O's of the game, guys who are trying to find ways to beat you, that really says something."

News of the selections helped cheer up Butler yesterday.

He missed the last two games with a strained left hip flexor and also was hit with a stomach virus in recent days. Unable to hold down food, Butler went to an area hospital yesterday to receive intravenous fluids. Last night, he said he was feeling much better.

He plans to test the sore hip at shoot-around this morning and will be a game-time decision for tonight's game against the Utah Jazz.

"I'm going to go out there and see how it feels and go from there," Butler said of the injury, which he suffered while scoring a career-high 40 points during an overtime loss at Milwaukee on Sunday. "I hate missing any games but at the same time, I don't want to go out there and make it worse and have it turn into something that bothers me all season."

The Wizards could certainly use Butler, who is averaging career highs in scoring (21.9 points per game), assists (4.3) and steals (2.4) and also is shooting a career-best 48.1 percent from the field and 91.5 percent from the free throw line.

Butler padded his all-star r¿sum¿ with a pair of triple-doubles and has made a franchise-record 70 consecutive free throws.

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