Wizards Find Themselves Behind the Eight-Ball
Tuesday, February 12, 2008; 2:17 AM
OAKLAND, Calif., Feb. 11 -- When a team is on losing streak such as the one the Washington Wizards have, no lead is safe.
That proved to be the case Monday night as the Wizards squandered a 23-point first-half advantage and suffered a crushing 120-117 loss to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Stephen Jackson led the Warriors (31-20) with a season-high 41 points and made a three-pointer to give his team a 115-113 lead with 55 seconds to play.
Jackson missed a free throw that would have all but clinched the win with 8.5 seconds left but Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson missed a potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer as Washington (24-27) saw its losing streak extend to eight games.
The Wizards, who played without all-star forward Caron Butler (strained left hip flexor) and point guard Antonio Daniels (right ankle soreness), close a four-game road trip Wednesday night in Los Angeles against the Clippers and then will have a chance to heal during the all-star break.
Roger Mason Jr., who started in place of Daniels, scored a career-high 32 points, Antawn Jamison added 25 points and 10 rebounds and center Brendan Haywood finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards.
"We jumped on them early but we knew that they are a team capable of coming back so our big thing was to get back and keep them from getting easy buckets and that's what they were getting," said Mason, who achieved his previous career-high with 24 points against Charlotte on Dec. 26. "They were getting layups, open threes, second-chance shots. These are things you can't give up and win. You can't win doing that and that's the bottom line. We gave too many of those up and didn't score enough at the other end. This is a game we should have won."
Washington lost, 108-107, at Phoenix on Sunday night but bounced back to score a season-high 72 first-half points. The Warriors steadily chipped away while playing the kind of fast and loose basketball that allowed them to upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
The lead twice dipped to five points in the fourth, but the Wizards continued to answer each Golden State push with a key shot, rebound or forced turnover. Still, after Andray Blatche pushed the lead back to eight with a rebound and putback layup, Jackson and Monta Ellis scored consecutive layups for the Warriors and the lead was 113-109.
Moments later, the lead was only two after Jackson made two free throws with 2 minutes 3 seconds to play. Stevenson was stripped by Jackson while trying to break the Golden State press, Jackson drew a foul and then tied the game by making the first of two free throws.
He missed the second but center Andris Biedrins grabbed the offensive rebound and threw the ball back to Jackson, whose three-pointer from the top of the key gave the Warriors a 115-113 lead with 55 seconds to play.
The collapse continued when Jackson missed a three-pointer and Stevenson grabbed the rebound but had the ball knocked off of his body by a hustling Ellis. After drawing a foul, Jackson made two more free throws with 22 left, giving the Warriors a four-point lead.