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Fast Breaks: Wizards-Cavaliers

Fast Breaks: Cavaliers-Wizards
By Marty Burns
 
Game 5 Leaders
Cavs lead series 3-2 PointsReboundsAssists
(5)
87 88
 
James
34
Jamison
11
West
8
AP
• The Wizards have done a good job talking tough during these playoffs. On Wednesday night, they finally backed it up. Led by Caron Butler (right), Washington pulled out a Game 5 victory on the road in Cleveland to stave off elimination and draw within 3-2 in their Eastern Conference playoff series.Butler scored 32 points, including a tough runner over LeBron James with 3.9 seconds left to give Washington the lead for good. The Wizards still needed James' short runner to rim out at the horn at the other end, but they deserved a little luck after climbing back from an 87-82 deficit over the final few minutes. Considering how little Washington had done to back up its silly bravado in this series (their Game 3 blowout at home doesn't count), it was about time.

• No offense to Gilbert Arenas, but his decision to shut it down for the season can only help the Wizards. Now they can get back to playing the way they did all year when he was out. Antonio Daniels and Roger Mason looked more comfortable in Game 5. Butler, meanwhile, was freed up to return to his role as the main catalyst. He delivered in a big way, adding nine boards and five assists to those 32 points. And he showed he can get it done in the clutch -- just like Arenas.

• LeBron played the first half as if he was saving his energy. He settled for a lot of jumpers instead of attacking the rim and drawing fouls. LeBron stepped up in the second half, scoring 24 of his 34 points, but it might have been a little too late. Of course, it would have helped if Wally Szczerbiak had been able to make a basket or stay in front of his man.

• Darius Songaila's foul on LeBron was borderline flagrant, but the refs were correct not to throw him out. He seemed to be trying to get his arm free more than trying to take a cheap shot. Still, NBA VP of Violence Stu Jackson might have a different view when he looks at the film.

• The Cavs should be kicking themselves over letting this game get away. Championship teams don't take nights off in the playoffs (like Cleveland did in Game 3) and they don't let foes scramble out of the coffin (as in Game 5). Now the Cavs have to go back on the road (where they are 4-10 since the trade) and face a rejuvenated Wizards team playing before what should be a raucous crowd at Verizon Center.
 
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