TORONTO | Washington Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott wanted to give Caron Butler a breather in the fourth quarter. Butler had other plans.
The swingman made a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer to give Washington a 100-98 victory against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.
Antawn Jamison had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Butler added 21 points for Washington, which nearly blew a six-point lead in the final minute.
Tapscott was overruled when he tried to substitute Butler in the fourth.
“You let the hot hand stay out there and let it stay as hot as it can,” Tapscott said. “He played the entire fourth quarter. I was desperately trying to get him a rest. Every time I turned around to the assistants and said, 'I think we should get Caron for a minute,' they said, 'Let him play, let him play.'”
Butler wasn't interested in heading to the bench anyway.
“I was like, 'I'm finishing this,'” Butler said.
He certainly did, sending defender Shawn Marion the wrong way with a pull-up drive, then making a jumper from the elbow as the buzzer sounded to give Washington the win.
“I was just trying to make sure there wasn't going to be any time on the clock,” Butler said. “I was trying to size up the defender, and Shawn Marion is a great defender. I was just trying to get him to lean one way and get the opportunity to get my jump shot off. Fortunately, it was able to happen.”
Before the game, Toronto coach Jay Triano called Butler and Jamison “the best forward duo in the NBA as far as putting points up.”
The pair started slow, shooting 3-for-13 in the first half, but combined for 36 second-half points as the Wizards won for just the third time in their past 13 games.
“I was flat, just flat,” Butler said. “I was hitching the jump shot early on, and I felt like I didn't have my legs underneath me.”
A 3-pointer by Toronto's Jose Calderon cut Washington's lead to 88-87 with 3:30 left, but Jamison and Butler each made three-point plays on either side of a Chris Bosh free throw to give the Wizards a 94-88 edge with 1:41 remaining.
Washington led 96-90 with 47 seconds to go after a reverse layup by Juan Dixon, but Jason Kapono made consecutive 3-pointers from the corner — the second after a Washington turnover at midcourt — tying it at 96-96 with 28 seconds remaining.
“It was scary,” Butler said. “It was one of those situations where we felt we had the game under control. We made a couple of errors, and they capitalized.”
Dixon made a jumper and Calderon answered with a layup, giving the Wizards the ball with 16 seconds left and setting up Butler's winner.
Bosh had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, and Kapono added 20. Calderon had 15 points and 11 assists. Bosh was left shaking his head about Butler's buzzer-beater.
“It was a good shot; that's what he does,” Bosh said. “I think Shawn played good defense, but he just made a tough shot.”
Brendan Haywood had 15 points, five blocks and nine rebounds for the Wizards. Dominic McGuire added eight points and 11 rebounds.
The victory means Washington can do no worse than match the worst record in team history. The Wizards, who have two games remaining, went 19-63 in 2000-01.
“We really want to get that 20 wins, and this was a great opportunity,” Butler said. “We rode the momentum and got it.”
By Elaine Donnelly
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