Wizards' 4th quarter rally ends in another heartbreak

The Grizzlies' Sam Young, left, is fouled by Dominic McGuire as the Wizards drop their fifth consecutive game in Memphis. Washington rallied late, but couldn't come up with the big play in OT.
The Grizzlies' Sam Young, left, is fouled by Dominic McGuire as the Wizards drop their fifth consecutive game in Memphis. Washington rallied late, but couldn't come up with the big play in OT. (Mark Weber/Associated Press)
By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

MEMPHIS -- Randy Foye spotted the loose ball on the floor, scooped it up and nothing stood in the way of a layup that would've tied the game in overtime for the Washington Wizards. But Foye was halted at half court by what went on behind him. As he darted up the floor, Foye was stopped in his tracks as officials called Antawn Jamison for fouling Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol on the play.

Foye screamed and shook his head, "No."

"I was already gone," Foye later said. "I was gone. I heard the whistle after I took a couple of dribbles."

Gasol made two free throws with 9.5 seconds remaining as the Wizards went on to lose, 116-111. And, once again, the Wizards made a fourth-quarter comeback that served as a futile exercise to pave the way for another heartbreaking loss.

Rallying from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit, the Wizards took a two-point lead on two Caron Butler free throws with 9.4 seconds in regulation. But if it wasn't for bad luck, the Wizards wouldn't have any luck at all.

On the subsequent possession, Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph drove to the basket and referees determined that Brendan Haywood fouled him with 0.3 of a second remaining. It was the second time this month that the Wizards, Haywood in particular, were called for a foul with less than one second remaining. They lost to the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 12 when Haywood fouled Mike Dunleavy with 0.1 of a second and Dunleavy hit two free throws to give the Pacers a 114-113 win. The Wizards have lost nine games this season by five points or fewer.

"Tough break. When you're struggling, it always seems that way," Jamison said after scoring 24 points. "The way things end in Indiana and tonight, to have the lead and to give them two free throws with [almost] no time on the clock is tough. It's testing the will."

Randolph made both free throws to tie the game at 102 and Gilbert Arenas's last-second shot rolled around the rim, then rolled off. "It's like the gods of basketball was teasing us," Foye said.

Arenas led all scorers with 30 points, but the Wizards (10-19) have now lost five consecutive games at Fed Ex Forum. They will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday at Verizon Center.

Butler added 24 points for the Wizards, who are just 2-7 against Western Conference teams on the road, losing five of their past six. Since defeating Dallas in the season opener, their only road win against the West came against the Golden State Warriors, when Arenas scored a season-high 45 points.

O.J. Mayo scored seven of his team-high 28 in the fourth period and also made a stellar play on defense. Arenas intercepted a pass and fired the ball out front to the speedy Earl Boykins for what appeared to be an easy fast-break layup. But as Boykins rose toward the basket, O.J. Mayo stripped away the ball and threw it up the floor before falling out of bounds. Randolph then missed a layup on the other end, but Gasol tipped it in to give the Grizzlies a 94-84 lead.

The Wizards rallied back with 10 consecutive points, tying the game when Foye (11 points) converted a three-point play with 3:26 left in regulation.

Butler hit a three-pointer from the right corner and Jamison and Haywood both made one of two free throws. After Haywood tied the game at 100 with 30.6 seconds left, the Grizzlies worked a play to Mayo in the corner. Mayo had shot an air ball three-pointer on the previous possession, but he again missed a three-pointer in the right corner and Butler grabbed the rebound and got poked in the eye by Randolph. He later stroked both free throws to put the Wizards ahead 102-100.

The Wizards trailed 111-106 when Randolph (23 points, 19 rebounds) made a tip shot with 1:49 remaining. They got back within 113-111 on two Arenas free throws, but when Arenas and Foye thought the Wizards had a steal late, Jamison was whistled for a foul. "Right now, we're in the Matrix type of basketball," Arenas said. "We're playing hard enough and good enough to barely lose; instead of hard enough and good enough to pull these games out. We're just not getting it done."

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