LOS ANGELES — They could look back on Jordan Crawford’s unfortunate slip and fall out of bounds late, on John Wall’s missed free throw, on JaVale McGee’s inability to stay on his feet before Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Gordon hit a game-tying three-pointer in overtime. But moments after the Washington Wizards suffered a hard-fought but deflating, 127-119, double-overtime loss on Wednesday, the players inside the visitor’s locker room at Staples Center could only focus on the pain.
“It hurts. Simple as that,” Crawford said after the Wizards (17-53) lost on the road for the 33rd time in 34 games away from Verizon Center. “This one hurt. The fact that we had the game, it was ours to win and we gave it away. We had so many chances, it hurt.”
A night after getting humiliated by 35 points in Portland, the Wizards put up some fight, overcoming sloppy play with an honest effort, and they had several opportunities to get rewarded. But after holding a five-point lead with 90 seconds remaining in overtime, the Wizards couldn’t get much to go in their favor — either from mental lapses, fatigue, or both — and lost their eighth consecutive game on the road.
Wall scored a career-high 32 points — including the driving scoop shot with 14.6 seconds left in regulation to force the extra frame — and added 10 assists but he missed a critical free throw that could’ve secured the Wizards’ second road win this season with 7.4 seconds remaining in overtime.
“We didn’t close it out,” Wall said. “It’s a tough way to lose. I’m really disappointed with that one. If I made one more [free throw], we would’ve been up four and they made the three we would’ve still been up. It’s tough to miss that free throw, but I can’t dwell on it. All I can do is prepare for the next game.”
With the Wizards holding a 113-110 lead in overtime, Coach Flip Saunders informed his players that they had a foul to give and warned them not to jump if the Clippers attempted a three-pointer. Clippers center Chris Kaman set a pick on Maurice Evans to free Gordon, who pump faked, getting McGee to leave to his feet, and then buried a three-pointer over Othyus Jeffers to tie the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. The Wizards had a chance to win, but Crawford missed a three-pointer from the right corner as time expired, and then bit down on his right hand, angry over the miss. “I thought it was going in,” said Crawford, who scored 25 points and added a career-high 10 assists.
The Clippers closed out the shorthanded and ragged Wizards — who used nine players and had three in Wall, Crawford and McGee, all play at least 50 minutes — in the extra frame when former Wizard Randy Foye buried a wide-open three-pointer to give his team a six-point lead with 46.1 seconds remaining.
“They’re hurt in there,” Saunders said. “They should be. We had them nailed. Similar to our Miami game at home, one possession, one free throw, one stop, one score and we win the game. But we just couldn’t find a way to do that.”
In the second and final meeting of the past two No. 1 overall picks, Blake Griffin had his first career triple-double with 33 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists before fouling out and receiving a standing ovation from the home crowd. He was able to get his second win over Wall despite missing a potential game-winning three-pointer at the end of the regulation.
“We both had good games,” Wall said. “But other guys stepped up on both of our ends. All the stuff I did doesn’t matter if I don’t get a win. I think we should’ve won it but they came up with bigger plays. Not to take anything from how they played, we both made it a good game, but they just did the right things to win.”
Gordon missed the Clippers’ 122-101 win at Verizon Center on March 12 with a right wrist injury, but he was healthy this time and scored 32 points. Kaman had 28 points, outscoring the Wizards 7-6 in the second overtime, and added 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
McGee had 22 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, sending one Griffin first-quarter offering into the third row, and Yi Jianlian added a season-high 18 points and seven rebounds. Yi tipped in a Crawford miss to put the Wizards ahead 112-107 in the first overtime, forcing the Clippers to call timeout and animating the Wizards’ bench. But after several breakdowns, and a meltdown in the second overtime, the Wizards were once again smarting after a game that they could’ve, or perhaps should’ve won.
“We could’ve clinched with a free throw or a made basket. Guys kind of sort of relaxed. You could tell guys was celebrating,” Evans said. “You have to understand as a young team it’s never over until it’s over. That’s another hard lesson learned. It just teases you because it makes you think, one night, you have an effort that makes you want to gag and the next night, you show so much promise and hope
Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.