Despite being without star Caron Butler, the Washington Wizards found a way to win the first game of a home-and-home series with the Toronto Raptors.
The Wizards will again be without Butler on Wednesday night as they go for the sweep at the Air Canada Centre, where the Raptors have been surging lately.
Butler, who is hoping to be among the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves to be announced Thursday, is averaging a team-high 21.9 points, and missed just his second game of the season in Washington's 108-104 overtime victory over Toronto on Tuesday at the Verizon Center.
The victory pushed the Wizards (24-19) into a tie with Cleveland for fourth place in the East, a half-game ahead of the Raptors (24-20).
Washington won for the ninth time in 13 games, but it also was only its fifth victory in 21 games without Butler over the past two seasons.
Butler scored a season-high 40 in Sunday's 105-102 overtime loss to Milwaukee, but strained his left hip flexor and didn't travel with the team to Toronto.
Andray Blatche did a stellar job filling in, scoring 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbing eight rebounds in only his second start of the season.
"I knew I had to bring it, because Caron's are big shoes to fill,'' said Blatche, who had 18 points on 8-of-22 shooting in his last six games combined. "After hitting my first shot, I knew I was going to be rolling.''
Washington also got a strong performance from Antawn Jamison, as he finished with 24 points and 20 rebounds. Jamison, also an All-Star hopeful, is averaging 23.0 points and 10.3 boards in his last three games.
The Wizards managed to hold off Chris Bosh and a frantic rally by the Raptors, who lost for just the third time in 10 games.
Toronto trailed by 11 points with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and Anthony Parker sent the game into overtime with a turnaround, high-arching 3-pointer as time expired.
The Raptors, though, made just 3-of-8 shots in the extra frame. They also were outrebounded 57-44 in the game.
"There's no excuse for not rebounding,'' Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "When we lose games, most of the time, that's part of it. It's not just one guy. It's all of us on the team. I don't know where we're going to find it from. We've got to learn to box out.''
Bosh finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds on Tuesday, and is averaging 30.8 points and 9.9 rebounds in his last nine games. He has been just as outstanding against the Wizards, averaging 31.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting and 10.5 boards in his last six games against them.
Bosh missed Toronto's 101-97 loss at Washington on Dec. 1 with a groin injury, but the Raptors have won their last three home games over the Wizards.
Toronto has won a season-high five straight home games by an average of 17.4 points since a 93-90 home loss to Cleveland on Jan. 6. The Raptors are averaging 107.2 points and shooting 50.9 percent from the floor in those games.
The Wizards, meanwhile, have been outscored by an average of 17.0 points in losing their last three road games.
Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited