Patchwork lineup from Wizards gives Wolves trouble
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As his soon-to-be former team was about to take the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Antawn Jamison sped out of the Verizon Center.
Jamison, a Washington Wizards' stalwart since 2004, was rumored to be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and minutes before the game, he was informed that the trade, though not yet done, was nearing completion.
Jamison's last-minute substitution, Andray Blatche, then went out and helped the Wizards beat the Timberwolves 108-99 on Wednesday night.
Blatche had a career-high 33 points and 13 rebounds to spark the Wizards, but it was Jamison, whose traded was officially announced about three hours later, who was on everyone's minds.
Jamison was traded by Washington in a three-team trade that sent Drew Gooden to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Washington received Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a 2010 first-round draft pick and the rights to Emir Preldzic, who was selected in the second round of last year's draft from Cleveland. The Wizards also received forward Al Thornton from Los Angeles.
After Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson were traded to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday for Josh Howard, Gooden, Quinton Ross and James Singleton, it wasn't a surprise that Jamison would be dealt.
"When your name is mentioned so much, you're prepared," Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
The trade left the Wizards in a temporary bind. Their hastily-assembled lineup featured Blatche and Mike Miller at forward and rarely used second-year player JaVale McGee at center, with Nick Young and Randy Foye at guard. Only Foye played in his usual position.
"It's like 'Extreme Makeover Team Edition,"' Miller said.
Now, the Wizards' Big Three are gone. Gilbert Arenas is suspended for the season for bringing guns into the locker room. Butler and Jamison have been traded.
Blatche, the 23-year-old fifth year player, had 21 points and 11 rebounds in the first half when the Timberwolves, who lost for the fourth straight time, led 54-52.
"All the moves I was practicing were working, so I kept taking advantage of it," Blatche said.
Washington didn't take its final lead until Miller hit a 3-pointer with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter for a 94-91 advantage. He quickly hit two more 3-pointers and the Wizards went on an 11-2 run to make it 102-93 lead with 2:42 to play.
Miller had 17 points and made all five of his 3-point shots. McGee had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Howard did not start but entered the game early in the first quarter. He scored 14 points in 26 minutes. Singleton had six points in 22 minutes, and Ross had three points.
Minnesota made a trade of its own. At halftime, the Timberwolves announced they had dealt the seldom-used Brian Cardinal to the New York Knicks for Darko Milicic, the second overall pick in the 2003 draft.
Al Jefferson led Minnesota with 18 points, and Ryan Gomes had 16. On Tuesday night after losing by 23 points in Detroit, Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis ripped into his team for a lack of effort. He saw lots of parallels.
"This is very similar to our lack of effort --guys not doing the right things, not getting the stops, not having the defensive pressure," Rambis said. "All of that was very similar."
When he was getting into his car, Jamison was asked if he had any parting comments.
"Not now," he said. He did have a message for the Wizards' fans. "You know I love them more than they love me."
NOTES: McGee made his first start of the season. ... Minnesota is 4-24 on the road. ... Timberwolves F Oleksiy Pecherov, who played two seasons with the Wizards before being traded in June, had five points in 14 minutes.