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Posted at 08:00 AM ET, 03/29/2011

Wizards avoid NBA history with second road win, franchise record for road futility still a possibility


It probably won’t happen. But wouldn’t it be nice if former Washington Bullets championship coach Dick Motta invited Lionel Simmons, Antoine Carr, Bill Wennington, Rory Sparrow and Ralph Sampson this weekend over to his Bluebird Inn Bed and Breakfast in Fish Haven, Idaho?

There, you can imagine, that group would pop the cork on a bottle of champagne and have a toast to celebrate how the 1990-91 Sacramento Kings’ record for road futility lives on after the Wizards won their second road game of the season, 100-95, in overtime on Monday against the Utah Jazz.

“We didn’t want to go in the record books,” John Wall said after scoring a game-high 28 points to help the Wizards end their longest road win of the season at 1-4. “It was great. Everybody was happy, jumping around, clapping hands.”

The Wizards are 2-35 on the road this season, and no matter how they end up, their record away from Verizon Center will remain horrible. They may have avoided matching the 1990-91 Kings, who own the NBA record at 1-40 (with that lone victory coming against the Washington Bullets). But they will still finish with one of the worst records in NBA history: The 1997-98 Denver Nuggets went 2-39; the 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers went 3-38 and the 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks went 3-38. Those clunkers remain well within range.

With four road games left, the Wizards would have to win all of them to match the previous record for fewest road wins in an 82-game season in franchise history. The 2008-09 Wizards were 6-35 on the road. The 1966-67 Baltimore Bullets went 3-38 in an 81-game season, and the 1961-62 Chicago Packers went 3-39 in an 80-game season.

For the first 40 minutes against the Jazz, the Wizards (18-55) played like a team that didn’t want to have to go home with yet another loss. But after taking a nine-point lead on Jordan Crawford’s jumper with 7:35 minutes remaining, the Wizards didn’t get another field goal until Crawford tied the game at 85 and forced overtime by making a jumper with 4.4 seconds. In overtime, they outscored a Utah team that is going through a difficult transition following the resignation of Jerry Sloan and the trade of Deron Williams, 15-10.

The celebration for the win over Utah began the moment the horn sounded, as Wizards players hooted and hollered as they walked from the court to their locker room. After the game, Coach Flip Saunders called the Wizards “cardiac kids,” while veteran Maurice Evans could only shake his head in disbelief over how hard it was to pull out the win. “I felt like I was in Buffalo Wild Wings commercial, where they kept tripping you and making something happen to prolong the game,” Evans said with a laugh after scoring seven of his 12 points in overtime. “We always got to make it dramatic, but I’m glad that we got it.”

Saunders challenged his team before the game to see how it would respond at the end of a long trip and on the second end of back-to-back games. The Wizards were also playing without five of their top seven players, with Andray Blatche, Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis back home, and Nick Young and Trevor Booker watching in the locker room as they had to deal with injuries. With few players available, the remaining guys had to log major minutes and they undoubtedly were feeling it.

But they would’ve felt worse if they had to go home with another road loss. “We definitely fought through fatigue, we fought the whole game,” JaVale McGee said after getting 17 rebounds -- his fourth consecutive game with at least 13. “The altitude was hurting us a little bit, but we fought through it. We just go through and got rebounds, played defense and that’s what worked for us.”

FROM THE POST

Here is the game story.

Monday wasn’t just any game for Othyus Jeffers; it served as a reunion against his former team, the Utah Jazz.

Terrance Briscoe, the Hype Guy, shoots for team spirit at Wizards home games.

AROUND THE WEB

Kyle Weidie notes that the “Our Time” motto worked much better for VCU than it did for the Wizards (DCist).

The Knicks ended their six-game skid with an overtime win over the Magic, and Carmelo Anthony delivered (Johnette Howard, ESPNNewYork.com).

David Aldridge says Grant Hill’s late-career surge reshapes the Suns’ plans for rebuilding (NBA.com).

Chris Mannix writes that Dwight Howard is rounding out his offensive game (SI.com).

By  |  08:00 AM ET, 03/29/2011

 
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