- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 3, 2007

On the night that the Washington Wizards welcomed Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler back to the lineup, utility man DeShawn Stevenson stood out at the most crucial juncture of the game.

With time expiring and the Wizards holding on to a 93-92 lead, Stevenson, who had come up with some big plays late but also missed some critical free throws, blocked Tyronn Lue’s potential game-winner as time expired to preserve the victory and snap a four-game losing streak.

“Yeah, he came up with some big plays for us,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of Stevenson, who finished with nine points and five assists. “Defensively he was good on Joe Johnson in the post, he got a big steal and he got to the line twice late. And he almost got that timeout. I thought he had it. Still, he was big for us down the stretch.”

Jordan was speaking of a play in which Stevenson got a rebound and tried to call timeout as he fell out of bounds with 2.8 seconds to play.

That was just after he made two of four free throws and missed the opportunity to put the Wizards up by three points before he snared the rebound.

When play resumed, the Hawks got the ball into the hands of Lue, who also found himself face-to-face with Stevenson on the perimeter.

Lue never had a chance. He tried to shake the bigger Stevenson, but it was to no avail. And when he did get off the shot Stevenson was there to deflect it and secure the win for the Wizards (32-25), who got their first victory in more than a week.

“It’s tough missing free throws like that especially when you can win the game,” Stevenson said. “I made one and we got a stop. It happens like that in the league sometimes. Sometimes you make the game-winner, sometimes you miss the game-winner. We needed it big; it was a big deal for us to get this win.”

After stopping Lue, Stevenson clenched his fists and let out a yell, partially because he was glad to see the Wizards’ losing streak end, and partially because when he fell out of bounds he hurt his ribs, an injury that forced him to ice down moments after the game.

“Yeah, it really hurts right now,” he said.

Jamison looked sharp in his return and finished with 22 points and six rebounds. Butler struggled offensively and finished with just four points on 1-for-10 shooting. He did, however, grab eight rebounds and record five assists.

Gilbert Arenas added 19 points and Brendan Haywood made the most of his 24 minutes, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Josh Smith led Atlanta (22-37) with 24 points and 14 rebounds. Marvin Williams added 21 points, and Joe Johnson added 20.

Jamison hadn’t appeared in a game since he sprained his left knee in a collision with Stevenson in a 104-99 victory over Detroit on Jan. 30.

That win was the last of three consecutive victories that put the Wizards 10 games over .500.

And the loss of Butler had just compounded the problems recently as teams loaded up their defenses on Arenas and dared the other Wizards to beat them.

Jamison, 10-for-20 from the field, looked sharp early. However, he clearly was winded late.

For his part, though, Jamison was just happy to be back on the floor and help the Wizards end their four-game losing streak to regain the momentum they had built up earlier in the season.

“The guys did a great job going out there and trying to win games,” Jamison said. “It was unfortunate what happened to Caron, but we’re both starting to get healthy now. Now we’re looking forward to making a pretty good push in the last two months of the season.”

The win at sold-out Verizon Center was the sixth straight home victory against the Hawks, who have dropped four in a row.

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