With Game in Hand, Wizards Throw It Away in Overtime Loss to Raptors

Morris Peterson
Toronto's Morris Peterson makes his one minute of run count, hitting a long three-pointer to force overtime on Friday night. (Manuel Balce Ceneta - AP)
By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 31, 2007

A stunned Gilbert Arenas sat in front of his locker and tried to wrap his mind around what had just happened to the Washington Wizards, who lost, 123-118, in overtime to the Toronto Raptors at Verizon Center last night.

"I think I'm going to go home and watch 'Titanic' and see if the ship still goes down," said Arenas, whose attempt to make a layup while drawing a foul with 4.7 seconds left in overtime was thwarted by Raptors all-star Chris Bosh, who swatted away the shot. "I don't even know what to say about this one."

After leading for most of the fourth quarter, the Wizards appeared to have the game wrapped up. After Arenas (34 points on 9-of-29 shooting) made two free throws to give the Wizards a three-point lead with 3.8 seconds remaining, the Raptors were forced to inbound the ball from underneath their own basket because they were out of timeouts.

Anthony Parker's long pass lofted harmlessly in the air, was deflected and grabbed near the three-point line at the Washington end by forward Michael Ruffin.

Ruffin landed with the ball but then attempted to throw it high into the air toward the other end of the court. Instead, the ball slipped out of Ruffin's right hand and landed directly in the hands of Toronto guard Morris Peterson, who had not played the entire game.

With Caron Butler running at him, Peterson half-shot, half-heaved the ball toward the rim, releasing it just before the buzzer sounded. To the amazement of Ruffin, the Wizards, the sellout crowd and Peterson himself, the shot went in from 31 feet.

"My natural reaction was to just throw the ball in the air and let time run out but I didn't get a good throw on it and there was a little more time than I thought," Ruffin said. "When I threw it, it kind of slipped off my palm. I didn't get a good grip on it."

Obviously stunned by the way regulation ended, the Wizards were outscored 14-9 in overtime. They trailed by three with under 12 seconds remaining but Arenas, who has been clutch in crucial situations all season, missed a three-point attempt.

Antawn Jamison grabbed the offensive rebound and passed back out to Arenas, who hesitated as if thinking about taking another three-pointer before driving and trying to make a layup while drawing a foul on Bosh.

However, Bosh (37 points, 14 rebounds) slid over and swatted the shot away and Parker iced the win for Toronto with two free throws.

"I was trying to get that contact and make the layup but he got there in time to block it," said Arenas, who was 3 of 11 from three-point range and missed all four of his shots in overtime.

The loss dropped the Wizards (38-33) into sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They fell a half-game behind Miami in the Southeast Division. Miami won at Minnesota last night. Toronto (40-32) remained in third place in the East, firmly atop of the Atlantic Division.

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