- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2008

SEATTLE — The second half of the season hasn’t been easy for Washington Wizards backup guard Roger Mason Jr.

He would enjoy a two- or three-game run in which he would play extensive minutes off the bench. But then a game or two would go by, and Mason would see limited activity as Wizards coach Eddie Jordan called upon rookie shooting guard Nick Young for boosts.

Mason admits the fluctuation has been tough to figure, but he refused to complain.

“I can only control what I can control,” Mason said. “If Coach calls my name, I’ll be ready. If he doesn’t, I understand it’s a team and we’re trying to win. I just have to be prepared in all situations.”

Jordan said there’s no set reason for Mason’s inconsistent minutes.

“Sometimes it’s just a gut,” Jordan said. “Sometimes I like to get Nick in there early because I know he’s going to be solid. Sometimes I think, Roger’s been playing so well, I want to keep his groove going, coming in early. Sometimes it’s what’s going on defensively — do we need to keep DeShawn [Stevenson] locked in on a guy, how’s [Antonio Daniels] doing? So sometimes it’s just about what’s going on out there as far as matchups.”

In Wednesday night’s 104-99 victory at Seattle, Jordan looked to Mason for answers. With the Wizards down 13 points with just more than three minutes left in the third quarter, Jordan sent Mason back onto the floor.

When the fourth quarter began, Mason took over. He made five consecutive 3-pointers and then sank a floater off the glass to pace a game-changing 19-7 Wizards run.

After the game Jordan credited Mason, who finished with 22 points and tied a career high with six 3-pointers, for bailing the team out. Stevenson also complimented Mason.

“He’s a flat-out shooter,” Stevenson said. “If you’re a flat-out shooter, you’ve got to take shots. If you’re on, you’re on. If you’re not, you’re not. In this league, [Mason] is going to have to make a living doing that, and he’s doing a great job doing that since [Gilbert Arenas is] out. But he’s going to be one of those people that get called on at weird times, and he’s going to have to take a shot not being warm because he’s a shooter.”

The performance gave Mason, who becomes a free agent at the end of this season, another chance to prove his worth. After averaging 2.4 points a game for the first four seasons of his career, Mason has averaged 8.8 points a night this year. Although he will likely land a nice contract this summer, he doesn’t allow himself to worry about that. He’s focused on his role this season.

“Just showing that I can help a team win, help a playoff team,” Mason said. “And obviously our team’s success is the most important thing, and I’m trying to be a part of it.”

Note The NBA announced yesterday the Wizards will be one of four teams participating in the NBA Europe Live preseason tour in October.

The Wizards play the New Orleans Hornets in Berlin on Oct. 14 and then travel to Barcelona to face the Hornets again Oct. 17. The New Jersey Nets and Miami Heat play Oct. 9 and 12.

It will be the NBA’s third consecutive European tour.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to play the New Orleans Hornets in the preseason and in the 2008-09 season,” Jordan said in a conference call. “We think it’s going to be a great experience for our team and our franchise on the floor, as well as off the floor. We’re really looking forward to bringing really exciting basketball to the preseason to Berlin and to Barcelona.”

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