- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2009

TORONTO | The Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors had taken turns making runs at each other all night long. The Raptors appeared to be mounting yet another charge - pulling within a basket - with less than three minutes left.

That’s when Antawn Jamison coolly made a baseline jumper from 19 feet and put his finger to his lips as he jogged back down the court. The shot sucked the life out of the home crowd and gave the Wizards the push they needed in a 106-102 victory Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.

“It’s something I needed to do,” Jamison said with a smile. “The crowd was getting into it, and I felt comfortable with it and was able to knock it down. I kind of wanted to let them know tonight was not going to be their night.”

Jamison scored a game-high 30 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead a balanced Wizards effort that featured four double-digit scorers. Gilbert Arenas had 22 points - 12 in the fourth quarter - and nine assists, which tied a season high. Caron Butler had 19 points, seven rebounds and three steals. And Brendan Haywood had 15 points and nine rebounds for Washington, which rebounded from a lifeless loss to Charlotte on Saturday to improve to 6-10.

More impressive than his offensive output, though, was Haywood’s defense on Toronto’s Chris Bosh, who needed 22 shots to score 22 points. After Haywood held him scoreless in the first quarter, Bosh went off for 18 in the second. But in the third and fourth quarters, Haywood clamped down again, limiting the power forward to four points on 1-for-8 shooting.

“He had a great second quarter against us, and I knew that if I didn’t do something, it was going to be a long night for us,” Haywood said. “A lot of it had to do with our team defensive schemes, but I was just trying to cut off his left hand. And I tried to meet him at the rim with his right.”

Before the game, coach Flip Saunders said the Wizards wouldn’t be able to afford to start slow. Toronto’s potent offense had been averaging 104.9 points, nearly 10 points more than Washington’s.

It wasn’t a problem early. Behind eight points from Butler, Washington took a 25-24 lead after one quarter.

Toronto used a 7-1 run to go up 31-26 two minutes into the second quarter and twice led by seven points. The Wizards came back to lead 45-44 on a Haywood dunk; from there, the teams exchanged leads 10 times down the stretch before Washington went into halftime leading 55-54 thanks to a buzzer-beating jumper from Earl Boykins.

The Wizards cooled in the third quarter; they made only seven of 22 shots. Washington also experienced a drop-off in the assists department. After tallying 11 assists in the first half, the Wizards had only one in the third quarter as they fell into a 77-72 deficit.

After going scoreless in the third quarter, Arenas heated up in the fourth quarter while sharing the backcourt with Boykins. Starting with a 3-pointer on an assist from Boykins, Arenas scored eight of his team’s first 14 points of the quarter. The eighth point came when Arenas converted a three-point play to put Washington up 86-85 with 7:26 left.

“Flip sat me down after the last game and said, ‘Play how you play,’ ” Arenas said. ” ‘When you averaged 29, you had six assists. You have six assists now and you’re not being aggressive, so it really don’t matter. Play your way.’ I said, ‘All right.’ ”

The Wizards’ lead reached 93-87 before Toronto trimmed it to 93-91. Then came Jamison’s crowd-silencing jumper, and Washington held on from there.

• Mike Jones can be reached at mjones@washingtontimes.com.

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