The Suns Set on the Wizards

Barry Barnes €" WI Contributing Writer | 1/27/2009, 10:59 a.m.

With the Suns (25-18) coming off a tough victory over the Atlanta Hawks, it appeared that the more rested Wizards (9-35) might be able to keep pace with Phoenix. For a while, the Wizards took control, and maintained a lead for most of the first half; their largest lead being seven points late in the first quarter.
Due to the play of the co-captains, forwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, the Wizards had the energy, momentum and the Suns were not shooting well, but managed to tie the game by halftime at 51. Jamison finished the half leading all scorers with 20 points and Butler the second leading scorer with 19.

The Wizards let the game get away from them in the third quarter. Led by center Shaquille O€Neal, the Suns punished the Wizards in the paint, 56-28.

€When you got someone like Shaq out there backing around with you, he wears you down,€ said Wizards interim head coach, Ed Tapscott.

The Suns made some adjustments against the Wizards€ leaders and Jamison only scored seven points for the rest of the game, two in the fourth, finishing with 27 points off of 8 for 20 shooting and 13 rebounds, leading the team. Butler scored only two points in the final 12 minutes of the game, finishing with 28 points on 9 for 20 shooting, and six rebounds.
    Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points and added 15 rebounds. Photo by John E De Freitas €" Sports Photo Editor

      Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal went 10-for-14 from the field, 9-for-10 from the free throw line and had eight rebounds in 36 minutes for the Suns. O'Neal's adventures included a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a first-half dunk and a kiss on the head for Butler after tying up the Wizards forward on a drive to the basket. Butler smiled good-naturally - then got the final laugh as he won the subsequent jump ball. Photo by John E De Freitas €" Sports Photo Editor
      Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O'Neal literally threw his weight around in the game's final minutes. He pushed Wizards center Andray Blatche to the court along the baseline with 4:11 to play and was called for a foul, while Blatche lay on the floor with a left knee injury and had to leave the game with 1:53 left. Blatche said his knee "buckled and came back in place'' and that X-rays were negative. €It's real sore. I thought it was something serious,€ Blatche said. €All I know is he hit me, and I went flying.€ Photo by John E De Freitas €" Sports Photo Editor

      The youth movement was in effect for the Wizards, as some of the team€s younger players received good minutes. Rookie center JaVale McGee led the Wizards bench scoring with six points on 3 for 8 shooting and seven rebounds. McGee also received praise from the big man himself.

      €I wish he (McGee) was under me a little bit,€ said O€Neal. €I could teach him a few tricks and for me, I like his game. It€s not too many guys that come in their first year and do the work, but I really like his game.€

      The Wizards get a day off before heading to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat on Wed. Jan. 28 to try to get their first win of the season in the Southeast Division.

      Game Notes:
      Wizards F/C Andray Blatche was diagnosed with a strained left knee. He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.