- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2009

MILWAUKEE | Caron Butler finally had a happy homecoming.

After experiencing either serious injury or losses in trips to his home state of Wisconsin since 2007, Butler left Bradley Center with a victory and his health Wednesday night.

The Wizards won their second straight game 109-97 thanks greatly to 25 points and 10 rebounds from Butler, who is from Racine - just 30 minutes from Milwaukee.

Playing in front of 70 family members and another 800 Racine residents, who attended the game thanks to a team effort of Butler and seven organizations including the Racine United Way and YMCA, the two-time All-Star helped the Wizards snap a three-game losing streak at Bradley Center.

Butler also helped the Wizards win their second straight game for only the third time this season. And making the victory sweeter was that he managed to escape Milwaukee without suffering an injury. In 2007, Butler broke his hand while trying to block a shot. In 2008, while playing at Milwaukee, he tore the labrum in his left hip.

But Wednesday night, Butler not only led his team in scoring, he made a fourth-quarter Milwaukee run-stopping jumper to tie the score at 86-86 and then tallied once more to put Washington up 91-86. He later blocked a shot to help the Wizards put the Bucks away.

“This has always been a tough place for me in particular to get a win. Coming here and getting a win meant a lot,” Butler said. “Obviously, I was caught in the moment, but I tried to stay with my routine as much as possible - knowing I had too many fans and family here. I told everybody I love you and got back to my routine because it’s easy to get distracted and put your guard down and 48 minutes later you say, ‘Dang, I messed up my rhythm and everything.’ I stayed in my rhythm. It was a great night.”

The Wizards (10-17) got off to a hot start, taking a 37-27 lead after the first quarter. Washington opened the game by shooting an impressive 65.2 percent from the field in the opening period, and Arenas set the pace with 13 points.

The Wizards cooled slightly in the second quarter but remained in front and continued to shoot well. Their problems, however, were turnovers (six in the second) and fouls (nine).

Arenas scored only two second-quarter points, and the Wizards - despite shooting 59 percent - held only a 57-52 lead at halftime.

The Wizards fell flat in the third quarter. They made only four of 14 shots from the field and got outrebounded 15-11. The only thing saving them was the atrocious shooting performance of the Bucks. For the third quarter, the Bucks missed 19 of their 27 attempts from the field and remained behind 81-75 entering the fourth.

The Wizards had bent in the third quarter but didn’t break and remained in control of the game. The Bucks pulled within one point of the Wizards twice in the third quarter but never managed to overtake them.

That changed briefly in the fourth quarter. Using a 9-0 run to open the period, Milwaukee went up 84-81 with 8:50 left.

The Wizards had a scare when Arenas crashed to the court after a drive to the basket that was ruled an offensive foul, and he lay writhing in pain gripping his left leg for a minute before being helped to the bench. The injury was later classified as a left thigh bruise, and Arenas - who also knocked out his left front tooth - did not return.

But even without their franchise point guard - who entered the game having averaged 32.8 points in the past four outings - Washington mounted the charge needed to regain control of the game.

Earl Boykins - who had 12 fourth-quarter points - scored five of the Wizards next six points to give them a 106-94 advantage with 99 seconds left. Jamison buried a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to slam the door on Milwaukee, who missed six straight shots in the final 2 1/2 minutes of play before Brandon Jennings got a 3-pointer to fall with 11 seconds left.

“The key to the game was defense,” Boykins said. “This was the first time where we were able to get four or five stops at the end of a game. And when you’re able to do that, it’s not as much pressure on you on the offensive end.”

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