- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Eddie Jordan recently has been looking for someone not named Caron Butler or Gilbert Arenas to step up.

Last night, he got that from multiple sources.

While Butler led the Wizards with a career-high 38 points, it was the play of Brendan Haywood and Andray Blatche that put Washington over the top in a 118-108 win against Seattle at Verizon Center.

On a night when Arenas was mediocre by his standards, Haywood and Blatche played wonderfully as the Wizards dominated the Sonics in the second half. Haywood recorded his sixth double-double of the season and finished with a season-high 20 points and 11 rebounds. The center was able to find his shooting touch, scoring on some shots that usually aren’t in his repertoire. He finished the game 7-for-9 from the field.

The 20-year-old Blatche turned in the finest game of his two-year career with the Wizards, finishing with a career-high 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

Reserve Calvin Booth also provided a spark for the Wizards, who used a 39-13 run to transform a 70-58 deficit early in the third quarter into a 97-83 advantage with just less than nine minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Booth had two of the Wizards’ six blocked shots in the game.

“We played at a high level in the second half, especially getting solid production from the bench,” Jordan said. “Calvin Booth was a catalyst, along with Andray. I felt Brendan played very well throughout the course of the game. He was very consistent. DeShawn [Stevenson] locked in on Ray [Allen] and made it hard for him.”

Allen led the Sonics (17-31) with 29 points but did little in the second half, making just three of 14 field goals against the Wizards’ surprisingly strong defense. Seattle also got 24 points and 10 rebounds from former Maryland standout Chris Wilcox.

While the victory marked the first for Washington (28-19) since losing Antawn Jamison to a sprained left knee last week, the Sonics continued their tumble toward the NBA lottery with their franchise record 15th road loss in a row. Losers of their last five, Seattle hasn’t won a game away from home since defeating the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 22.

After allowing Seattle to make 26 of 42 shots in the first half, the Wizards limited the Sonics to just 19-for-42 shooting in the second half.

The Wizards ratcheted up their play in the second half, something that was reflected across the board. In the final 24 minutes they got to the free throw line 24 times and made 22 of them. Meanwhile the timid Sonics got to the line just 10 times in the second half.

Allen — Seattle’s primary scoring threat — was Jordan’s main concern last night. Jordan emphasized before the game that he did not want Allen — seventh in the league in scoring (26.7) — to get off to a hot start.

Guarded by Stevenson for most of the first half, Allen had 18 points by the break.

Arenas, on the other hand — coming off a 9-for-29 performance against the Lakers — struggled early and had just nine points by halftime.

This shifted the scoring load to Butler, who led the Wizards with 16 points in the first half. Haywood also was active offensively, scoring 10 points by halftime.

“With Antawn being out everybody has to do a little bit more,” said Haywood, who notched the third 20-point, 10-rebond game of his career. “It can’t just be Caron and Gil trying to overcompensate because then they are going to try to do too much and teams are going to load up on them. So guys like myself, Andray, Cal, all of us have to step up. We have a lot of guys who can step up, but it’s about having the confidence to do it.”

Now Washington turns its attention to tomorrow night, when the San Antonio Spurs visit Verizon Center.

The Spurs beat the Wizards handily last month 93-80 when they met at AT&T; Center in Texas. The Wizards realized they will have to continue to get contributions from everyone in order to win.

“Any time the Spurs come to town you know it’s going to be a problem,” Haywood said. “They are a veteran team, and they play great defense. If we move the ball and play well we have a chance. If we go out there and play one-on-one basketball, it’s going to be a long night.”

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