Mavs blown out in MLK Day matinee

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison gave the Washington Wizards their first season sweep of the Dallas Mavericks since 1996-97.

Butler had 25 points and nine rebounds, Jamison added 23 points and eight rebounds, and Washington overcame Josh Howard's 32 points to beat Dallas 102-84 Monday, the Mavericks' biggest loss of the season.

The Wizards have won five of their past six games -- including beating the Boston Celtics twice -- to take hold of fourth place in the Eastern Conference despite playing without star Gilbert Arenas since November.

Butler and Jamison have been leading the team on the court and in the locker room, though, and they're building strong cases to return to the All-Star game.

Monday provided a perfect example.

It was a fairly even game, notable mainly for Howard's strong showing, when Washington's pair of starting forwards took over in the third quarter. Butler and Jamison combined for 19 consecutive Wizards points during a 6 1/2 -minute stretch, helping the hosts turn a one-point lead into their biggest margin of the game to that point, 67-58.

They kept adding to that advantage, leading by as many as 15 early in the fourth quarter. The final margin was Washington's largest of the game, and it came courtesy of Butler's 3-pointer from 33 feet with 16.3 seconds left.

Butler went 2-for-2 on free throws to extend his franchise record and NBA season-high to 56 in a row at the line. He also had five assists and five steals.

The Mavericks had won eight of their previous nine games. But they once again were stopped by the Wizards, who add this victory to their 110-98 decision at Dallas on Nov. 26, shortly after Arenas had left knee surgery for a second time.

Howard's chief help came from Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Only one other Mavs player scored more than eight: Devin Harris had 14.

DeShawn Stevenson scored 18 for Washington, including a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half to put Washington ahead 46-41 at the break.


Wizards C Etan Thomas walked out early in the third quarter in a three-piece suit and tie to sit on a seat at the end of Washington's sideline. Thomas spoke before the game about his return from open heart surgery. He's waiting for team doctors to clear him to begin practicing. ... Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the game had a rare weekday 1 p.m. tipoff. "I like early games. I like 'em to be either really, really early or really, really late," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said with a laugh. "Games are great whenever they want to schedule them -- 9 o'clock in the morning, 1 o'clock, 8:30 at night -- as long as we get the chance to play."