My postgame recap thing was a bit spotty on the fourth quarter Sunday night. That’s because the computer I was using had some personal issues and started giving me the digital Wittman face, so with time running down I ran at a full sprint toward The Washington Post and tried to catch up on what happened, while wearing sweaty running clothes and sitting in my boss’s chair. Hi Matt. No, I didn’t use a disinfectant spray.
Anyhow, those readers of mine who weren’t either sleeping or spraying industrial-grade whiskey down their throats late Sunday night pointed out two glaring omissions from my recap, two fourth-quarter moments that would linger with them for weeks or months, moments when Washington could have calmed the swirling waters but instead thrust paddles into the whirlpool and helped hasten the fetid liquid down the drain etc. etc.
The first came with about six and a half minutes left. The Wizards were in the midst of an 11-2 run that had turned a tie game back into a 9-point lead. There appeared to be a tiny window for Washington to avoid a dramatic ending, to reassert Game 4 superiority. And then Andre Miller found a cutting Bradley Beal for an easy layup to push the lead into double-digits.
Except Beal missed the layup, the Pacers hit consecutive three-pointers, and the moment was gone.
The second moment came with less than a minute left. Washington was down by three, but had the ball. John Wall got the ball behind the three-point line. No one else was around. The crowd roared. I’ll let SB Nation’s Mike Prada take over from there:
It was a shot Wall didn’t take that will linger for the next two days. He found himself wide open with under a minute left, and the crowd begged him to take the same wing three he took and missed at the end of Game 2. Instead, he passed it up.
“I was screaming at him to shoot it,” Harrington said. “But he saw something else — Bradley [Beal] — open on the other side.”
Wall, meanwhile, claimed he made the “right decision” because the play was for Beal and he’s a better shooter. It sounded great, but Wall always says the right things. Putting those words into action has proven to be more difficult, especially against a Pacers defense that has regained its midseason form.
Beal missed. It might have been Washington’s last, best chance.