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Butler's big night makes up for Arenas in overtime win

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Hours after learning they would be without star Gilbert Arenas for three months, and minutes after they pulled out an overtime win with only nine healthy players, Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan kept talking about character.

With Caron Butler picking up the scoring slack with 39 points, and Antawn Jamison controlling the inside with 27 points and 12 rebounds, the Wizards outlasted the Charlotte Bobcats 114-111 on Wednesday.

"It was just a classic case of being resilient," Jordan said.

The Wizards' sixth straight win was likely their toughest and most emotionally draining. With Arenas undergoing surgery Wednesday and facing a long rehab, they will need more of these tireless performances.

"We dealt with the emotional strain of losing him for three months," Butler said. "We just got together and went out there and got a win."

Butler scored seven points in overtime, including two free throws with 15.5 seconds left to give Washington a three-point lead.

After Gerald Wallace threw up an airball from 3-point range, DeShawn Stevenson missed two free throws with 2 seconds left, giving Charlotte another chance to tie.

Matt Carroll hit the side of the backboard on a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer, sending the Wizards to a mini-celebration as they continued their turnaround from an 0-5 start.

"Our guys were great tonight," Jordan said.

Raymond Felton had 27 points and 12 assists, Wallace scored 25 points and Emeka Okafor had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Bobcats, who had their two-game winning streak snapped when the couldn't stop Butler and Jamison.

"When you have two All-Stars on the floor, sometimes you have enough," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said.

After Butler missed a fadeaway jumper at the end of regulation, Jamison and Butler scored two quick buckets in OT to put the Wizards ahead to stay, and they narrowly avoided blowing the same six-point lead they wasted in the final 2 minutes of regulation.

It provided some happiness for the Wizards, who were blindsided earlier in the day with the surprising news that an MRI showed Arenas had a cartilage tear in his surgically repaired left knee. He immediately underwent surgery.

It came less than 24 hours after Arenas spent the night on the bench watching his teammates rout Philadelphia. Arenas had talked about coming back by later in the week.

Players found out when they got to the arena

"I didn't know it was that long," center Brendan Haywood said when asked before the game about losing Arenas for three months.

With Haywood sitting out with a sprained left ankle sustained a night earlier, the Wizards dressed only nine players.

The Bobcats received their own scare late in the second quarter when their leading scorer, Wallace, had a frightening fall to the floor after blocking Butler's driving layup. Wallace had a rib contusion and lay on the floor for several minutes, but returned for the start of the third quarter.

It didn't affect him, at first. After missing eight of 11 shots in the first half, Wallace shot 7-for-8 in the third quarter, including two 3-pointers as the Bobcats rallied from a seven-point deficit to get within 79-78 entering the fourth.

The Bobcats rallied late in regulation, with Felton's two free throws with 22.5 seconds left tying it.

Wallace said he took another shot to the ribs late in the game, and he failed to score in overtime.

"I took a shot under the ribs and I think it just mentally shut me down," Wallace said. "In the fourth quarter I kind of let my teammates down.

"I'm sore, tired, beat up. I'm just trying to make it home to my bed right now."

Game notes
Arenas initially injured his knee last season against the Bobcats when he collided with Wallace. ... Wallace clanged a breakaway dunk off the back of the rim in the second quarter. ... Haywood hopes to return Friday against Golden State. ... The Wizards' NBA-record streak of seven straight games of scoring more points than the previous game was snapped.


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