Jamison's big night quiets Raptors
Antawn Jamison knew better than to put his finger up to his lips to silence the Toronto crowd after hitting a baseline jumper to put his team up four with 2:29 remaining.
With the regular-season series decided by a total of nine points last season, it was almost expected that Tuesday's game between the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards would go down to the wire.
Jamison scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as he and Gilbert Arenas lead the Wizards to a 106-102 victory.
Asked about the crowd-shushing play, coach Flip Saunders smiled.
"At that time it was okay. You've gotta play with a little bit of passion," he said.
After an abysmal effort in a blowout against the Charlotte Bobcats, passion is what his team gave him on Tuesday.
Arenas finished with 22 points, 12 coming in the fourth as the Wizards turned a seven point-deficit in the final quarter into their sixth victory of the season, spoiling the Raptors' hopes at grabbing a victory at home before heading out on a three-game road trip.
"You can't keep letting these games fall by the wayside," said Caron Butler, who scored 19. "Getting everybody back healthy, Gil had a great rhythm. He had it going and he carried us. 'Tawn did some magnificent things in the fourth quarter to get us over the hump. Everybody participated."
While the teams traded baskets in the first half the Wizards led by one at the break.
After going scoreless in the first quarter, Chris Bosh poured in 18 points in the second before fading down the stretch, scoring only four points in the second half.
Earl Boykins joined Jamison and Arenas in playing the entire fourth quarter. Saunders credited the job Boykins did on defense down the stretch.
"Earl did a great job on their point guards and took away some of their penetration as far as the fourth quarter."
His play also helped Arenas play off of the ball and go into attack mode.
"I decided today I was going to be more aggressive," Arenas said. "It's fun. It relieves the pressure, it gets me off the ball and puts me back into my old mode where I was just score."
He chose a good time to get going.
After spending the better part of the weekend trying to figure out how to stop their third-quarter collapses, Toronto shifted their melt downs to the fourth quarter. They gave up 34 points in the quarter to the Wizards, allowing them to shoot 69 percent from the floor, while shooting only 35 percent themselves.
Trailing by five to open the final quarter, Arenas hit a three for the Wizards and they went from there. With Calderon, Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu combining to shoot just 3-for-14, the trio of Butler, Jamison and Arenas connected on 10-for-14 of their attempts in the quarter.
While the Raptors kept it close thanks to 14 points in the quarter from reserve guard Jarrett Jack, the Wizards connected on 8-for-10 free throws to close out the Raptors down the stretch.
The comeback aside, Saunders was pleased with his team's defense.
"Control tempo of the game [was key] and tonight the game was played pretty much at our tempo. To hold this team to what we did, have them shoot 42 percent, defend the three-point line how we did, I think that's a credit to what we did defensively."
Butler praised the job Brendan Haywood did on Bosh defensively, while reining in the excitement that came from the victory.
"Brendan did a hell of a job on Bosh," Butler said. "This was a real quality win. We can celebrate it for a couple more hours and then get prepared for Milwaukee."
Haywood knew he couldn't afford to allow Bosh to continue to score after heating up in the second quarter if the Wizards wanted to leave Toronto with a win.
"He had a great second quarter against us and I knew if we didn't do something, me personally, it could have been a long night, one of those 40 point nights," Haywood said.
A smile spread across Haywood's face, though, when asked about Jamison's late-game gesture.
"It took a lot of momentum away from them. The whole building was loud and when he hit that bucket... everybody got a little quiet. Basketball is a game of momentum. Once we had the momentum it was key for us down the stretch and we really rode that."