- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2008

It was perhaps an ill-advised comment, Washington Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson calling Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James overrated last month. James, after all, led the league in scoring and does a few other things pretty well on the court.

James came back with a snappy musical metaphor, saying that responding to Stevenson would be like the famous rapper Jay-Z responding to the less-famous rapper Soulja Boy. Ouch. And then, James’ non-response response stood up as the Cavaliers took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series. James was terrific, as usual. Stevenson made 5 of 16 shots.

But last night, Stevenson, with none other than his invited guest, Soulja Boy, looking on (and performing his Soulja Boy dance), scored at least a temporary measure of retribution and won Round 3. Sporting a modified Mohawk that nicely complemented his scraggly beard, he scored a team-high 19 points as the Wizards pumped up the volume and turned up the heat, blasting the Cavaliers out of Verizon Center 108-72.

Asked about Soujla Boy’s appearance, Stevenson, who made 5 of 7 3-point baskets, said, “LeBron, he started it. If I was disrespected as an artist, I would have come, too.

“Soulja Boy felt disrespected, and he came in and showed support for the Washington Wizards.”

Will Soulja Boy, who received not only tickets but also a Stevenson jersey, be at Sunday’s Game 4 at Verizon?

“Me and Gil are superstitious, so we gotta get him back,” Stevenson said.

Gil, of course, is Gilbert Arenas, the Wizards star guard who missed most of the season with a knee injury and was the team’s sixth-man during the two losses. But he started Game 3, only to leave in the second quarter with a bruised knee.

If it bothered the Wizards, it didn’t show. This was the most lopsided playoff victory in franchise history. They might not prefer playing without Arenas, but they have grown accustomed to it.

“With Gil being out, the guys went back to what we were used to during the course of the season,” guard Antonio Daniels said.

After shooting a combined 39 percent in Games 1 and 2, the Wizards torched the Cavaliers with better than 52 percent shooting from the field.

Stevenson had a lot to do with that. All of his baskets were 3-pointers.

“With me, it’s seeing that first shot go in, and I’m comfortable,” he said. “When you see a couple of shots miss, you talk to yourself. And that’s when I have a problem.”

Stevenson led five Wizards players in double-figures. Cleveland, meanwhile, shot less than 40 percent, missing 14 of 16 three-point attempts. James, who averaged 31 points in the first two games, just about his season average, had only 22 points. The only other Cavaliers player in double figures was Devin Brown, who scored 10.

Although Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler had the primary defensive responsibilities on James, it was a “total, collective defensive effort,” Daniels said.

“We were very active tonight,” said Daniels. “We did a great job covering for each other, even when we made mistakes. Trust was big for us tonight.”

Stevenson’s haircut was just one of several tonsorial statements by the Wizards. Butler came out with his nickname, “Tough Juice,” shaved into the back of his scalp and, after two subpar games, scored 17 points. Forward Andray Blatche unveiled a Mohawk, which was really “Son of Mohawk” because he started the season with one and contributed eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

Do we have a DeShawn-LeBron rivalry in the works?

“There is no DeShawn-LeBron rivalry,” James said, getting a hearty laugh from the assembled media.

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