Taking on The Wizards

Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler have been shouldering the offense for the Washington Wizards while Gilbert Arenas has been out, but both had subpar performances their last time out.

Jamison and Butler try to bounce back and help the Wizards extend their longest winning streak over the Philadelphia 76ers in a decade when they visit the Wachovia Center on Friday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Philadelphia –1.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 196.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Washington +1.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Washington (7-8) fell to San Antonio 109-94 on Wednesday to lose for the third time in four games following a six-game winning streak.

It was the team's most lopsided loss in seven games since losing Arenas, who led the Wizards in scoring last season. The three-time All-Star is expected to miss three months after undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 21.

Jamison and Butler had strong seasons a year ago as they complemented Arenas, but now they've had to become even bigger scoring threats. On Wednesday, each player had trouble with that role.

Jamison was held to 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting after averaging 31.3 points in his previous four games.

Butler averaged 31.8 points in his last four, but the Spurs limited his touches on Wednesday and he scored only 16 points. It was just the second game all season he had fewer than 10 field-goal attempts.

"They loaded up on Antawn and Caron every time they caught (the ball)," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "And when they did catch, the defense sort of loaded up on the strong side of the floor and they don't get the attempts because we have to pass out or make a tough play."

The Wizards also allowed an opponent season-high 56.6 percent shooting from the field, and were outscored 23-14 in the final 8 1/2 minutes of the game.

"We leave here tonight and say, 'Why are they good? How can we emulate some things that the Spurs do so we can get better,'" Jordan said. "We need to learn how to get to another level of play. I have seen this team play at a higher level of basketball, however, we need to learn how to maintain it."

The Wizards were playing well not long ago, as their six-game winning streak included a 116-101 victory over Philadelphia on Nov. 20.

Jamison had 19 points in the win over the 76ers, but Butler was held to a season-low six points. Washington received surprising performances from Andray Blatche, who came off the bench to score a career-high 26 points, and DeShawn Stevenson, who scored a season-high 22.

The Wizards are outscoring the 76ers by average of 10.0 points in winning the last four meetings, their longest win streak in this series since a five-game run from Nov. 15, 1995-March 4, 1997.

The Sixers (4-10) are coming off a 106-95 loss to Utah on Wednesday, and has dropped eight of 10 after opening the season 2-2.

Philadelphia is in the midst of its worst start since opening the 1997-98 season 4-11.

"I hope we can turn it around before it's too late," said guard Willie Green, who had 11 points on Wednesday but was 2-of-10 from the field. "I hope we can use these losses to keep getting better and keep getting experience and turn it around."

Andre Iguodala scored a team-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting on Wednesday, and is averaging 22.0 points in his last three games after averaging 13.5 points on 29.1 percent shooting in his previous four. Iguodala had 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting in the loss to the Wizards last week.

Louis Williams had a career-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting and made all four of his 3-pointers in the loss to Washington. He had 13 points against the Jazz, and is averaging 16.3 points off the bench in his last six games.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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