With the Washington Wizards on the verge of losing in regulation, Nene managed to use his long right arm to convert a hook shot over Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez. On the verge of a shocking collapse in overtime, Wizards rookie Bradley Beal managed to hit a pull-up three-pointer, gleefully backpedaling as stunned fans mulled whether to cheer or reach for heart medication.
Escape after escape, the Wizards went through an emotional roller-coaster ride Friday night at Verizon Center, filled with angry Nene glares, confused Coach Randy Wittman stares, overwhelming dejection from the usually ever-confident Jordan Crawford and unbridled joy from Beal. Beal made two free throws to tie the game late in the second overtime, but the Wizards couldn’t avoid a 115-113 defeat because they allowed Brooklyn to take the last shot that mattered.
Nets all-star guard Joe Johnson buried a fallaway 18-foot jumper over Beal with seven-tenths of a second remaining and celebrated with chest bumps along his bench as Brooklyn escaped — and the Wizards pondered their continued slippery grasp on close games that they easily could’ve won.
“How many times have we been here?” Wittman asked after the Wizards’ number of overtime losses this season eclipsed their win total. “I’ve lost count. We’ve got to keep striving to find the magic of closing a game out. Having guys step up. . . . An effort like that, it hurts. It goes wasted.”
The Wizards (4-27) keep finding more ways to inflict more damage on a dreadful season, more ways to lose in the most inexplicable fashion, more ways to add pain and heartache upon already beleaguered supporters. Their loss to Brooklyn moved to the top of the list, leaving Wittman silent for nearly 40 seconds at his postgame news conference, staring at the box score, searching for an explanation.
“It’s easily the wildest, in terms of me being a guy playing in a game,” point guard Garrett Temple said after handing out a season-high 11 assists. “I just wish I would’ve been on the other side of it.”
When the Wizards look back on how they failed to claim their fifth victory and fell to 0-5 in games decided after regulation, they’ll remember the four-minute scoring drought late in regulation and blowing an eight-point lead with 75 seconds left in overtime.
The Wizards didn’t suffer from bad breaks, only bad breakdowns, and squandered some solid individual performances. Beal scored a career-high 24 points and had the highlight of his young career in the fourth quarter, when he made an emphatic two-handed jam over Nets reserve MarShon Brooks.
Crawford finished with 23 points, making a series of circus shots for most of the night, including a ridiculous over-the-shoulder bank shot as Johnson fouled him in the second quarter. But Crawford will remain haunted by a personal meltdown in overtime that included a turnover, two missed jumpers and two missed free throws. He already was gone from the locker room by the time reporters entered after the game.
Nene scored 20 while playing a season-high 36 minutes and sat, fuming, feet planted in a bucket of ice after fouling out the first time in nearly two years.
“If I open my mouth, I’m going to get fined,” Nene said.
Martell Webster (14 points) made two free throws to complete an 8-0 run that gave the Wizards a 101-93 lead with 1 minute 27 seconds left in overtime, but the Nets to scrambled back into the game in the snap of a finger.
District native Keith Bogans started an 11-0 run when he buried a three-pointer from the left corner, then Crawford lost his dribble and fouled Gerald Wallace, who made two free throws. Crawford missed a short jumper and Temple allowed Nets all-star point guard Deron Williams to waltz right by him for a layup to bring the Nets within 101-100.
“We had the game,” Beal said. “We felt as the game was already over. We felt that we had them on their heels. We let them back in too easy. Kind of the same thing that happens every time.”
Bogans then fouled Crawford who stepped to the foul line and missed two free throws with 14.1 seconds remaining. Nene fouled out while fighting for the rebound with Lopez, who made two free throws. Williams (24 points, 10 assists) put the Nets ahead 104-101 with 3.2 seconds remaining after Crawford missed another jumper, but Beal bailed out the Wizards when he took a pass from Crawford and tied the game with a difficult fading three-pointer.
“Bradley kept us alive when we should’ve been dead,” Wittman said. “And we shouldn’t have been dead to begin with.”
Lopez scored a game-high 27 points and Johnson had 18 for the Nets (18-15), who helped teammate Andray Blatche earn a win in his return to the place that he called home for seven seasons. Blatche heard boos every time he touched the ball and seemed to relish in the negative reaction as he finished with a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Though he had little influence on the final outcome, Blatche left town with a smile on his face.
“I definitely didn’t want to come here and lose,” he said.