The Washington Wizards are playing terrific basketball lately. Here’s what Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison have to say about it:

Antawn Jamison on the team’s improved defense: “The majority of it has been the mindset.  We were tired of being talked about as a bad defensive team.  Certain individuals, including myself, were not getting it done on defense.  I think we got fed up with it.  We want to do everything possible to make it work. Sometimes we didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do, but we did it.  We bought into the system.  We were struggling with it those first few games, but we continued to believe in it and eventually we did a complete 180.  That’s the gratifying thing about it…to know you believed in it from day one, you bought into what the coaching staff was trying to do, and now to see the rewards from it.  You are starting to see what kind of team we can be, defensively.”

Antawn Jamison on Caron Butler: “I don’t see him just starting to do it…he has been doing it.  A lot of people wonder where this is coming from, but the guy has been doing this since he got here.  Caron is not doing anything different.  He isn’t surprising me, or the rest of his teammates, or the coaching staff at all.  Caron has been doing this since day one.  I’m glad he is getting the recognition he deserves.”

Antawn Jamison on the team’s attitude: “We are having fun.  Defensively we are in sync.  Offensively, we are great.  Right now we feel like, no matter who we play, if we come out and get in plays that we have practiced, we put ourselves in a good position to win games.  I think this team has had more fun than we have had in a long time.  We have a good amount of confidence.  We still have a lot of room for improvement.  We realize that you can’t get too high when things are going your way and you can’t get too low when they are not.  Right now things are going in the direction we want them to go in, but we still have a long ways to go.  We still have the second half of the season to play and hopefully we can get some key guys back and take it from there.”

Caron Butler on the keys to tomorrow’s game against Cleveland: “We need to continue to play good basketball.  We need to protect the paint and go out there with a lot of energy.  Those are the keys to our success: to protect the paint, to make defensive stops, and to get out on transition to create some good offense for us.  Whenever we hold teams to under 90 points is usually when we have a great opportunity to win.  We have to go out and supply a lot of pressure tomorrow night.”

Caron Butler on the team’s defense: “If we aren’t making shots, we need to get stops.  Our defense has been our offense lately.  If we aren’t getting into the flow of our half court offense, somehow we are attacking the paint and getting out on the floor in transition.  Good defense has been the key to our success.”

Caron Butler on LeBron James: “LeBron is a great player.  He knows how to make the supporting cast around him better, and that is what great players do.  He is doing a good job of that.  He is a great facilitator.  He knows when to pick and choose, when to support, and when to be aggressive.  We need to apply pressure.  We aren’t going to stop him, but we need to make things real difficult for him.”

Caron Butler on the Wizards’ recent ‘big’ wins: “We don’t have anything to lose.  Everyone keeps telling us we shouldn’t be beating these people.  We know what the perception is, so we just go out and play loose.  We get fired up and we win games and prove those doubters wrong.”