By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The Washington Wizards were on the brink of suffering a brutal home loss to the lottery-bound Los Angeles Clippers last night when all-star forward Antawn Jamison saved the day.
First, he forced overtime by drawing a foul on Los Angeles guard Cuttino Mobley and making three free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining in regulation. Then he sparked a 10-4 run in the extra session with a pair of three-pointers that sent the Wizards on their way to 119-109 victory in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.
Jamison, who also made a three-pointer with 4.9 seconds left in regulation when the Wizards trailed by four, finished with 36 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards (33-32) who moved above .500 for the first time since early February with their third straight win.
"I better not miss," Jamison said of his thoughts as he stepped to the line for the three free throw attempts. "I felt bad because I missed some earlier that could have tied the game or made it easier for us down the stretch. When you get a break like that, you have to take advantage."
Caron Butler, who returned to the lineup Thursday night after missing 16 straight games with a left hip injury, shook off a rough start to help ice the win with a pair of sensational dunks and a pair of free throws in overtime.
He finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists in 39 minutes and will clearly enjoy having today off as his left knee and left wrist were encased in ice bags after the game.
Corey Maggette led the Clippers (21-44) with 34 points on 11-of-16 shooting. The Wizards outscored the Clippers 19-9 in overtime and put away the game for good when guard Antonio Daniels made a three-pointer from the corner with 5.5 seconds to play.
The victory allowed the sixth-place Wizards to remain one game ahead of surging Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards trail Toronto by 1 1/2 games and host Atlanta tomorrow night.
The Wizards played without starting center Brendan Haywood, who was a late scratch because of a sore left knee. He suffered the injury -- a strained left patellar tendon -- late in Thursday's home win over Cleveland and likely will return tomorrow night, according to Coach Eddie Jordan.
Veteran Darius Songaila started in place of Haywood and contributed 14 points and eight rebounds. For the second consecutive game, seven Wizards scored in double figures.
"It was a great win for us," Jordan said. "It was great for Antawn to make those free throws and for us to get a stop at the end. We played so well in overtime. We executed well and got some really good stops. We got some key rebounds."
The end of regulation featured a stunning turn in momentum. The Clippers led by three with 9.7 seconds remaining and Jamison missed the first of two free throw attempts. Jamison made the second attempt and quickly fouled Maggette to stop the clock. Maggette gave the Clippers a four-point edge by making both free throws.
Jamison took a pass from DeShawn Stevenson and made a three-pointer from the top of the circle with 4.9 seconds to play, cutting the deficit to one. Following a quick foul, Tim Thomas made a pair of free throws for the Clippers. After a timeout, the Wizards inbounded the ball to Jamison, who was in the act of attempting a game-tying three-pointer when he was fouled by Mobley, who reached in and tried to knock away the ball.
With much of the crowd on its feet and others still straggling back in after leaving when it appeared that the Clippers were in control, Jamison sank the foul shots and celebrated by slamming his right fist to his chest as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Jamison "made an unbelievable shot on the leaning three-pointer and then we fouled him again, which was just our fault," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said.
In the first meeting between the teams on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, the Wizards emerged with a 91-89 win that was clinched by Jamison's last-second tip-in.
"He's an all-star," Maggette said of Jamison. "He did what he was supposed to do and he lead his team to victory."