- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 16, 2006

Finally, the streak is over.

Caron Butler scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Gilbert Arenas had 27 and Antawn Jamison added 22 as the Washington Wizards beat the shorthanded Miami Heat 106-95, ending their 16-game losing streak — including a four-game sweep in the 2005 playoffs — last night at sold-out Verizon Center.

Butler, who scored 18 points in the first quarter, was a rookie with the Heat on April 11, 2003, the last time the Wizards beat Miami. That game was memorable because Michael Jordan had his No. 23 retired by the Heat, and it was the last win of Jordan’s career.

The Wizards’ losing streak against the Heat was the second longest active streak in the league. Dallas’ 18-game streak over New Orleans/Oklahoma City is first.

But this is not the same Miami team that won the NBA championship last season. The Heat are without injured stars Dwyane Wade (dental surgery) and Shaquille O’Neal (knee surgery).

That’s probably why Wizards coach Eddie Jordan downplayed the victory, which pulled the Wizards (11-11) to .500 for the first time since they were 3-3 after a Nov. 12 overtime loss to New Jersey.

“It was a big issue for a lot of people but not for us. We wanted to do what we have to do to be a better basketball team,” Jordan said. “Being motivated because of a streak, that’s not what we’re looking at. We’re looking at what do the Wizards have to do to get better at both ends of the floor on a nightly basis. It’s the here and now and not what happened before, and not what people can predict for us.”

Miami center Alonzo Mourning (17 points) succinctly summed up his reaction to the setback, which dropped the Heat to 9-13.

“Three of their go-to guys played and three or our go-to guys were out — you do the math,” Mourning said.

Miami was also without guard Jason Williams (thigh injury).

Jordan wanted his players to pounce on the banged-up Heat from the start, and they obliged.

Paced by Butler’s 18, the Wizards scored a season-high 40 points for a 40-17 lead after a quarter. They shot 76.2 percent in the period, including 26 fast-break points.

But the Wizards didn’t get any fast-break points in the second quarter, and that allowed Miami to slowly carve away the lead for a 60-49 halftime margin.

James Posey, who scored a team-high 26, had 17 in the second, including five 3-pointers. He finished with a career-high seven 3s.

The lethargy that infected the Wizards in the second quarter carried over into the early part of the third quarter, and it was most pronounced when Posey drilled the second of two 3-pointers that both pulled the Heat to within 60-57 and shushed most of the 20,173 in attendance.

The Heat, however, never got any closer. With 3:29 left, Butler, who also had four assists and four steals, put the Wizards up 102-90 on a 16-foot jumper.

Butler has now had back-to-back scoring highs in the team’s last two games. The win ended a streak for him, too. Even though he has played for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Wizards since the Heat drafted him 10th overall in 2002, he had never beaten Miami before last night.

“I had the monkey on my back, too,” said Butler, who was acquired from the Lakers in the Kwame Brown trade on Aug. 2, 2005. “I had never beaten my old team before. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Pat Riley, but we really needed to get this one.”



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