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Butler Sparks Come-From-Behind Win

Caron Butler drives to the basket against Kings forward Ron Artest. Butler finished with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Caron Butler drives to the basket against Kings forward Ron Artest. Butler finished with 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds. (Rich Pedroncelli - AP)

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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 29, 2008

SACRAMENTO, March 28 -- When the Washington Wizards needed a jolt of energy Friday night, Caron Butler gave it to them with a spectacular dunk over Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Martin. When it was time to put the game away, Darius Songaila scored Washington's final eight points.

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The result was a 114-108 Wizards victory that gave the team a 2-1 mark on a five-game road trip that continues Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers and concludes Monday night at Utah.

The Wizards (38-34) moved four games above .500 for the first time since Jan. 30 and remain alone in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one full game ahead of the Toronto Raptors.

Antawn Jamison recorded his 42nd double-double of the season (25 points and 12 rebounds), DeShawn Stevenson (20 points) made two late three-pointers and Butler and Songaila took over when it counted to lead the Wizards to a sixth straight win over the Kings (32-40).

Ron Artest led the Kings with 28 points while Martin added 25. But after leading 58-47 at halftime, Sacramento fell apart in the third quarter when the Kings managed only four field goals over the final 9 minutes 23 seconds.

The key play was made by Butler (18 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds) with 2:58 remaining in the third and the Wizards trailing 75-71.

Butler received a pass on the wing, froze John Salmons with a crossover dribble and then drove and dunked over the 6-foot-7 Martin while drawing a foul, wowing the ARCO Arena crowd.

Butler's play threw a charge into the Wizards, who celebrated wildly on the bench, and seemed to drain some confidence out of the Kings.

"It was a momentum changer in our favor," Butler said. "It shocked the crowd and my teammates fed off it and it gave us a boost."

The push continued with two Butler free throws, a fast-break dunk by Butler and a three-point play by Songaila that allowed the Wizards to take an 82-79 lead into the fourth quarter.

In all, Butler's dunk inspired a 16-4 run that carried over the start of the fourth when Roger Mason Jr. made a three-pointer to give Washington an 87-79 lead. The Kings closed to within 96-94 on a pair of free throws by Salmons but the Wizards answered two more free throws by Butler and a pair of crucial three-pointers by Stevenson.

The lead reached 106-97 when Stevenson drove and made a layup but the Kings answered with a 6-0 push. Butler found a cutting Songaila with a perfect pass and Songaila scored a layup to make it 108-103 Wizards but Ron Artest answered with a long jumper for the Kings.

Songaila banked in a short jumper with 36.6 seconds to play and the Kings failed to score on two straight possessions. Songaila put the game away with four free throws in the final10.4 seconds.

He finished with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Mason, the hero of Wednesday's win at Seattle, added seven points off the bench.

"The dunk was just part of the run," Coach Eddie Jordan said. "I know it meant something but I'll tell you what, Darius cutting and making layups meant just as much. Roger's shots meant just as much and DeShawn hitting those threes meant just as much. All of that was just a part of it. Our guys understand that playing 48 minutes is pure gold man."


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