Antawn Jamison on the new-look Wizards was in Madison Square Garden Tuesday as the Knicks hosted the Washington Wizards. Before the game, Antawn Jamison talked about how the Wizards have regrouped during the 28 games since Gilbert Arenas last played. During that stretch, Washington has astounded naysayers by posting a 17-11 record, and now trail before the Orlando Magic by just 1 1/2 games in the Southeast Division.

“Now that Gilbert is not with us, Caron [Butler] has kept this team together -the leader that he is, and the All-Star that he is. It was a beautiful performance by him last night [against the Celtics, in the second of their home-and home series]. Not too many guys could’ve done that. Every opportunity, every situation, he has found a way to get it done. And, he’s having fun, also.

“Caron’s a vocal guy, and tough-minded- and he has got everyone’s attention. We had an opportunity to win a game, and he didn’t want us to give anything less than 100% on the court.

“When Gilbert, Caron and myself [are on the floor], we try to rely on our offense, and not our defense, to win games. We’ll come down the court, and take some quick shots. Play an up-tempo style of basketball. Without Gilbert, we can’t do that.

“We know we must have quality possessions, and take quality shots. And have our opponents play a little more defensively than normal. In the past, it was [all about] our offense. Now, we’re relying more on our defense. That has been the biggest difference.

“We’re in a very unique situation. We have two other guys, besides Gilbert, who have been to All-Star games [Butler and himself], guys with playoff experience, and one guy has won a [championship] ring [Antonio Daniels]. We have a good set of veterans who can tackle these challenges. The thing has helped us is that when we were without Gilbert and Caron during the playoffs last season, a lot of guys, who wouldn’t have normally played, did. So, when [Gilbert] went down again [he is recovering from left knee surgery] -and we know he’s gonna be out for a while- it gave some guys an opportunity to show people what they can do.

“But, we are still a quality team, and [can make a difference] in the conference.”