- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009

A partially dislocated right shoulder forced Washington Wizards power forward Antawn Jamison to miss a month of action, which included the first nine games of the season. Jamison made season debut against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night at Verizon Center, and instead of showing the slightest trace of rust, the two-time All-Star put his struggling team on his back and carried them to a 108-91 victory over LeBron James and the Cavaliers in front of a sellout crowd of 20,173 fans.

Jamison picked up career double-double No. 263, recording 31 points and 10 rebounds and helped the Wizards snap a six-game losing streak.

With the victory, the Wizards evened their season series record with the Cavaliers at 1-1, avenging a 102-90 loss suffered in Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Jamison’s offensive output came on an efficient 12-for-22 shooting performance and 5-for-6 showing from the foul line. Jamison’s performance was His effort was enough to offset a icy 6-for-22 performance posted by Gilbert Arenas, who finished with 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Mike Miller added 17 points, for the 3-7 Wizards and Caron Butler tallied in with 19 points.

LeBron James led Cleveland with 34 points (28 coming in the first three quarters), who fell to 8-5.

It was almost fitting that Jamison made his debut against the Cavaliers. It was against the same team — only in Cleveland — that he injured himself on Oct. 13 while laying a hard foul on Cavalier center Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

And it came at the worst possible time for the Cavaliers, who entered the game without Shaquille O’Neal, out with what the team is calling a strained shoulder, and power forward Anderson Varejao, nursing a hip contusion.

“You don’t want to leave Antawn [alone] on the court,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said before the game. “He puts you out of whack defensively, because you’re constantly paying attention to him.”

Jamison solved a big problem for Washington, which without him lacked an offensive flow.

The Wizards hoped Jamison’s return would help ignite their stagnant offense and help prompt better ball movement. But early on, instead of getting into a better flow around Jamison, all the Wizards got early was Jamison. The 12th-year veteran came out firing, scoring 13 of his team’s 22 first-quarter points on 5-for-9 shooting. Only problem was, none of the other Wizards players could get their shots to fall and as a team, the Wizards made only 36 percent of their first-quarter shots.

Cleveland, meanwhile, shot 64 percent from the field while closing the first quarter on a 12-4 run and taking a 32-22 lead into the second quarter. The Cavaliers extended their lead to 17 points by scoring seven unanswered points in the first four minutes of the second quarter.

Jamison went back to work, sinking a runner from seven feet out, and then finally one of his teammates followed suit. Miller made back-to-back 3-pointers, Jamison tipped in a shot, and then Miller scored on a layup that cut lead to 41-34 with 4:45 left in the half. Eight straight free throws cut the lead to 45-43, but Cleveland regained a 51-44 lead at halftime.

Arenas, who in the first half was 1-for-9 — including 0-for-6 from 3-point range — finally got a shot to fall to start off the third quarter. The point guard scored a team-high 14 points in the third.

A 21-foot jumper from Jamison pulled Washington within a point of the visitors, then a runner from Arenas on the next possession gave them their first lead of the second half (58-57 with 7:22 in the third). The Wizards carried a 75-72 lead into the fourth quarter, and then with Arenas and Jamison watching from the bench, Washington blew the Cavaliers away.

A big reason for Cleveland’s late collapse was the lockdown defense backup guard DeShawn Stevenson applied on James. While matched up with James in the fourth quarter, Stevenson — whose personal spat with James drew national attention during the teams’ playoff series in 2008 — flustered his foe, holding him to just five points in the fourth quarter on 2-for-5 shooting.

Stevenson’s finest moment came when he stuffed a soaring take to the hole by Jamison with just more than three minutes left to play. James received a technical foul while arguing the call. Butler knocked down the free throw to give Washington a 103-85 lead with 3:22 left, capping a 28-13 run by the Wizards.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide