WASHINGTON(AP) Caron Butler's air ball went straight to Antawn Jamison, who caught the ball and made the simple layup.

On the next possession, Butler released the ball in the crowded lane. It was deflected by a defender, and - again - went right to Jamison for - yep - another easy layup.

The two fortuitous baskets - or savvy plays, if you believe Butler's revisionist account - gave the Washington Wizards the lead for good late in the fourth quarter of Friday night's 116-111 comeback victory over the Milwaukee Bucks

``I saw him at the last minute, and I knew the ball was slippery, so I just tried to float it to him,'' said Butler, giving a coy description of the air-ball play. ``It slipped a little bit. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.''

``The second one ...,'' he added, pausing and shifting his eyes, ``... was a pass also. I'm real mad about that - I should've had two more assists.''

He actually was given an assist on the second one, which put Washington ahead 110-106 with 58 seconds to play. Gilbert Arenas then scored the final six points for the Wizards, who went from terrible in the third quarter to terrific in the fourth to improve to 3-0 at home.

Arenas finished with 29 points and 11 assists, and Jamison had 24 points, leading six Washington players in double figures. The Wizards made only three field goals in a 17-piont third quarter, but they scored 40 in the fourth and overcame an 11-point deficit with 9:51 to play.

``We just came out lackadaisical,'' said Arenas, who was 0-for-5 from the field in the third. ``They jumped on us. We couldn't get a shot. Then in that fourth, we caught our second win and went off.''

Michael Redd scored 28 points to lead the Bucks, who have lost three straight. Charlie Villanueva added 18, and Andrew Bogut had 15 before fouling out with 1:47 to play.

``We did a lot of good things, but we didn't finish them off,'' Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. ``You almost have mixed emotions because we played with good energy and we played inspired, but, bottom line, we didn't make the plays needed to win those games.''

Ruben Patterson, who finished with nine points, criticized Stotts' player rotation in the fourth quarter. Patterson played 7:29 in the third but only 3:40 in the fourth.

``We had the game and we let it get away,'' Patterson said. ``As a player, you make a run like that, you've got to stick with the players that got you back in the game. It was just so ugly. I'm trying not to be frustrated about it, but I am. There ain't no way we should've lost that game.''

The Wizards led by as many as 16 in the second quarter on the strength of 3-point shooting, but Redd and Bogut scored 12 of the Bucks' last 14 points to pull within eight at the break.

Milwaukee kept the momentum in the third quarter, stifling the Wizards with a matchup zone. Unable to get into any kind of offensive flow, the Wizards went 3-for-16 from the field and stayed in the game only by making 11 of 15 free throws.

The Wizards trailed 91-80 early in the fourth, but Butler made a three-point play and later made three free throws after getting fouled while attempting a 3-pointer in a run that put Washington ahead 101-99 with 4:42 remaining.

Notes: When the ball got slippery late in the fourth - a common complaint since the NBA switched to a synthetic material this season - Arenas requested a new one and was surprised when the officials obliged. ``We asked if could we change it out, and they said yeah,'' Arenas said. ... Arenas had become the first NBA player since Wilt Chamberlain to score 40-plus points in his first two home games, but that streak stopped Friday night. Chamberlain scored 40-plus in four straight to open 1962-63 season. ... Think it's so unusual to see the Rutgers football team undefeated this late in the season? Not so for Wizards coach Eddie Jordan. He was at the school when it went 11-0 in 1976, the same year he played on the Scarlet Knights basketball team that went 31-0 before losing in the Final Four. ``We won more games,'' he said with a grin.


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