By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 17, 2010; D07
The Washington Wizards capped a mentally and physically taxing week with a 96-86 victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings on Saturday night, getting a team-high 19 points from Caron Butler and valuable contributions from their reserves to end a four-game losing streak and give Coach Flip Saunders his 600th career win.
Playing for the second time in as many nights, the Wizards (13-26) never trailed in the second half but had to blunt several late pushes to win for the just the third time in 12 games. The victory was not in hand until Antawn Jamison made an 18-footer with 53 seconds to play for a 90-84 lead, and the Kings had to foul the rest of the way.
"I'll be honest, I don't know if any of us even had a chance to think about that with all the events that have happened over the last three weeks," Saunders said of his milestone. "This whole three weeks has been kind of a surreal situation."
Kevin Martin scored a game-high 23 points for the Kings (15-24), who also got 21 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds from Tyreke Evans.
Washington limited Sacramento to 37.3 percent shooting, including 7 of 23 (30.4 percent) from three-point range, in beating the Kings for the eighth straight time and sweeping the season series, 2-0. The Wizards, who shot 47.5 percent but missed 10 of 13 three-pointers, have not lost to the Kings since Feb. 27, 2005.
Jamison added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Brendan Haywood added 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Wizards played their fourth game in five days in three cities, including Friday night's 121-119 loss at Chicago in double overtime. The fatigue showed on their first possession against Sacramento when Butler took a shot from the left wing just inside the three-point arc that missed completely.
The Wizards did not have a starter reach double figures until Butler made a free throw with 6 minutes 53 seconds left in the third quarter.
"It's what we needed, especially after a tough night like [Friday] with the amount of minutes played" by the starters, Jamison said of the production from the backups. "We needed the bench to really come in and guys to really step up and really help out, and we were able to do that tonight."
Guard Earl Boykins led the way for the reserves with 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting, including some acrobatic drives to the basket, and had three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Guard Nick Young came off the bench to score 12 points. In all, the Wizards got 36 points from their reserves.
Saunders substituted liberally in the opening quarter, first brining in Dominic McGuire with 4:39 to play, then following with Andray Blatche one minute later, Boykins with 2:34 to go and Young with 15 seconds left. Those reserves combined for 18 points in the first half, and the Wizards led, 48-44, at intermission.
Saunders didn't get much from his reserves against the Bulls. The Wizards' bench players contributed just 14 points, and starters Butler and Jamison combined to play more than 110 minutes and score 61 points.
That duo missed 17 of 29 shots combined against the Kings but scored 12 of the final 13 points. Jamison logged 41 minutes one night after playing 55 minutes and had missed 11 of 16 shots before his crucial jumper in the final minute.
During Arenas's absence, the team has gone 2-5 and also has dealt with an injury to Mike Miller, who is day-to-day after aggravating a right calf injury in last Sunday's 115-110 loss to New Orleans, and Blatche's one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
"Oh man, I'm going to be in a coma," Jamison said when asked if he was eagerly anticipating a day off on Sunday. "It's tough, but you've got to push through it."