Washington 102, Minnesota 88

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (AP) -- With Gilbert Arenas out at least another two months, everyone knows the Washington Wizards are going to count on Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.

It's the contributions from lesser-known players such as Roger Mason Jr. that are going to determine whether Washington can stay above .500.

Mason's 17 points made him one of six Wizards in double figures Tuesday night, Jamison and Butler both had double-doubles, and Washington overcame a career-high 36 points from Craig Smith to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-88.

"We understand that Caron, myself - it just can't be us. We need the rest of these guys to contribute on the offensive end,'' said Jamison, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. "Guys are accustomed to just letting the Big Three get their shots up and carry the team. We need everybody.''

Butler had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Brendan Haywood had 11 points and 14 rebounds as the Wizards (11-10) moved above the break-even mark for only the second time all season.

They also improved to 8-5 without star point guard Arenas.

"That is how they have been without Gilbert Arenas,'' said Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman, who returned to the sideline after missing three games because of back surgery. "They have different guys stepping up.''

Mason went 5-for-8 from the field for his season high in points, and added four rebounds and two assists while playing some point guard instead of his more natural position, shooting guard.

"I've been fortunate to have an opportunity to play,'' said Mason, who went to Virginia and played professionally in Israel and Greece. "You can't show what you can do without that.''

He's getting more time in part because the Wizards are down to nine healthy players.

Arenas had a second operation on his left knee in November, and Washington also is without Etan Thomas (heart surgery), Oleksiy Pecherov (broken foot) and Darius Songaila (sprained left ankle).

It looked as though the Wizards might lose another player when forward Andray Blatche sprained his right ankle in the first half, but he was back on the court in the third quarter.

"Guys are toughing it out,'' said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, whose team completed a 4-1 homestand.

The Timberwolves dropped to 1-8 on the road and 3-16 overall, and they were trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season. But they couldn't follow up their victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday with another surprise.

That was hardly Smith's fault. He had never scored more than 26 points in an NBA game, and he didn't get much help Tuesday: No one else on Minnesota scored more than Al Jefferson's 14.

"Ever since they put me in the position to start, I just come out and try to be aggressive,'' Smith said, adding that he jammed his left wrist but expects to be OK.

Washington was up by as many as 20 points, 66-46, after a 10-0 run to begin the third quarter.

But Minnesota kept chipping away, and when Jefferson scored two straight baskets, then Corey Brewer made two free throws, it suddenly was a game again: Washington's lead was down to 85-79 with 8 1/2 minutes left.

But the Wizards responded with a 7-0 run to get some breathing room, with two baskets by Haywood bracketing a three-point play by Jamison off a pass from Butler.

"They were too much for us tonight,'' Brewer said. "They played together.''

Notes: Jamison had his seventh consecutive double-double, the longest streak for a Washington player since Rod Strickland had eight in a row in February 1998. ... Minnesota G Randy Foye is expected to be rehabbing his injured left knee for a few more weeks.

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