By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 28, 2008
MILWAUKEE, Jan. 27 -- Caron Butler did everything imaginable to help the Washington Wizards secure a come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday evening, but the one thing he couldn't do was make Bucks guards Mo Williams and Royal Ivey miss when it counted.
Despite Butler's career-high 40-points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals, the Wizards fell, 105-102, in overtime because Williams made a pair of crucial three-pointers and Ivey made another big shot in the extra session.
Ivey's shot was the real backbreaker. It came with the Bucks leading 101-99 with under 10 seconds remaining. The Wizards played good defense on the possession and Williams was forced to make a difficult pass out to Ivey while falling out of bounds. Ivey, who started in place of the injured Michael Redd, managed to set his feet and make a 22-footer over the outstretched arm of Antawn Jamison, just beating the shot clock.
Butler drew the Wizards within 103-102 by making a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left but after a quick foul, Williams made two free throws. Jamison's desperation heave from half court was off the mark and the Wizards (23-19) were finished.
The loss was especially crushing for the Wizards because of the way they came back from an 11-point deficit down the stretch.
"I came back to the bench with a minute forty left and said, I'm taking these guys out of here," Jordan said of his starters. "But then I said, 'No, let me leave them in there and see if they can pull something out,' and they did. They brought us back."
After a breakaway dunk by Charlie Bell made it 90-79 Milwaukee with 1:40 remaining, DeShawn Stevenson made consecutive three-pointers for the Wizards, including one after a Bucks turnover by Williams. Just like that, the Wizards had trimmed the Bucks' lead to 90-85 with 1:25 to play.
Milwaukee continued to collapse with another turnover and the Wizards took advantage. Antonio Daniels stole the ball from Williams, drew a foul and made the first of two throws. Jamison came up with the rebound over Bucks rookie Yi Jianlian on the miss and made a jumper while drawing a foul.
Jamison missed the free throw, but Butler muscled his way into position, ripped the ball away from at least two Bucks and made a shot while falling onto his back, tying the score at 90 with 20 seconds left.
The Bucks had one more chance, but Williams missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the game went to overtime. Williams finished with six turnovers.
"I don't think we relaxed," said Bucks Coach Larry Krystkowiak, who heard his team booed by the home fans after the near collapse in regulation. "They hit a three and then we turned it over and they hit another three and there went half of the lead right there. I don't think that was as much us letting our guard down as it was them making plays."
The Wizards jumped out to a 99-95 lead with 2:18 left in overtime. Butler followed a three by Stevenson with a three of his own, and then added a three-point play that came after he stole the ball from Bell and made a layup while drawing a foul.
Butler, who has made 70 consecutive free throws, came up short on a three-point attempt as the shot clock wound down with 1:34 left and Williams and Ivey then took over with their shooting.
"The same sense of urgency we played with at the end of the fourth quarter we should have played with the entire game," said Butler, who played in front of about 40 friends and family members from his home town of Racine, Wis. "We just tried to hang in there. Milwaukee was very resilient in overtime."
Williams has hurt the Wizards before. He scored 35 points and made a game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer in a 105-102 win at Verizon Center on Dec. 2, 2005, and has posted several high scoring games against Washington.
Jordan said the big shots Williams made Sunday were the result of good screening and a defensive breakdown.
"We had a missed assignment getting out to Mo but give him credit, he made the shots," Jordan said. "We just didn't execute our defensive route correctly but that was good execution by them and he made the shots."