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Wizards' Trevor Booker battling for time

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Reserve makes the most of his limited minutes

Even with the Wizards at or near full strength for much of the second half of the season, coach Randy Witt?man's chosen reserves on any given night have varied dramatically.

In Wednesday's 106-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, it was Trevor Booker's turn. With 13 points and 12 rebounds -- both season highs in his second double-double of the year -- he scored more and grabbed more boards than he had in his previous four games combined.

"I felt pretty good out there," Booker said. "I felt like myself. I felt like the old Book."

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Hornets at Wizards
When » Friday, 7 p.m.
Where » Verizon Center
TV » CSN

It's easy to forget that the third-year forward started the first seven games of the season and 32 last year. He has played only 30 games this year as injuries (right wrist, right knee) and inconsistent performances have relegated him to the back end of the rotation, where he often has had to fight for minutes with Chris Singleton and, to a lesser extent, Jan Vesely. All three remain under contract with the Wizards (21-42) through next season, but Wittman hasn't shown a particular affinity for using any of them on a regular basis.

Booker had 10 points and six rebounds in a 96-88 loss to Toronto on Feb. 19, his most points since November. Given a start against Detroit on Feb. 27, he had four points and five boards.

But against the Bucks, his versatility at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds gave Wittman a much-needed option to bang with forward Ersan Ilyasova.

"He only knows how to play one way, and that's hard, and he's got to do that," Wittman said. "If he does that, good things happen. ... I thought he was very active. That third quarter Ilyasova gave us a little bit of problems with our big lineup, and so I went a little bit with Booker, and I thought he harassed him, got after him."

After Ilyasova had 12 of his 21 points in the third quarter, Booker limited him to just two in the final period. He also made a crucial interception leading to a Trevor Ariza 3-pointer late in the third quarter and gave some trademark toughness contributions at the offensive end, converting a three-point play during a 7-0 run and later flying in for a slam on a short alley-oop pass from Nene.

"Book wore his heart on his sleeve tonight, and he came out and performed, which is the most important thing," Wizards forward Martell Webster said. "Whatever it takes you to get ready, you got to do it."

Not bad for a guy who had no idea he was in the team's plans.

"I really didn't know," Booker said. "Some games I was playing. Some games I wasn't playing. I just tried to stay ready. [Wittman] called my name tonight, and I had a pretty good game."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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