By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 3, 2010; 12:26 AM
When the Washington Wizards needed a shot at the most critical juncture against Philadelphia on Tuesday night, they didn't turn to any of the starting five, and that includes John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick who was making his regular season home debut.
With less than a second to play and a defender almost chest to chest, it instead was seldom-used reserve Cartier Martin who had the ball and the Wizards' hopes of forcing overtime in his hands. Martin shrugged off an advancing Andre Iguodala, launched a jumper from a few steps behind the three-point line and watched it swish through as time expired, tying the score at 106 and triggering thunderous applause from the announced crowd of 17,803 at Verizon Center.
"When I got it off, I felt like it was going in," said Martin, a guard who played in the developmental league last season before signing a 10-day contract with the Wizards that led to another deal that kept him with the team for the remainder of the season. "I was pretty confident I could make the shot. Once it got up, I knew it was money."
Martin's clutch field goal was emblematic of how well Washington's bench players acquitted themselves one game after the reserves were a virtual no-show. Wizards non-starters combined for 41 points in the 116-115 overtime victory, including 20 from Nick Young and nine from Yi Jianlian. In Saturday night's 99-95 loss at Atlanta, Washington's bench points comprised 10 from Yi and no more.
Martin finished with six points against the 76ers, and Hilton Armstrong added six to round out scoring by the reserves as the Wizards (1-2) posted their first victory of the season.
"The bench was really good," Coach Flip Saunders said.
While Martin's buzzer-beater proved the most timely basket of the night, Young was the marquee player off the bench early, sinking shots at such a torrid clip in the first half that he was on pace to threaten his single-game career high. During one stretch of the second quarter, Young made four straight field goals, had a steal and assisted in applying pressure to Evan Turner, the No. 2 overall pick, and Iguodala.
Young's first basket in that sequence gave the Wizards a 32-30 lead with 9 minutes 48 seconds to play before intermission. By the time he completed a three-point play roughly two and a half minutes later, Washington had a seven-point advantage after trailing by 14 in the first quarter. In between, Young swished a three-pointer and a 20-foot jumper, both off passes from Kirk Hinrich, who assisted on all of Young's field goals in the quarter.
Young scored but five points in the second half, all coming in the fourth quarter, yet still his line was a picture of efficiency. He made 7 of 11 shots, including 3 of 5 from three-point range, in 23 minutes. Young sat out for a significant portion down the stretch, but Saunders reinserted perhaps his best pure shooter with 9.5 seconds left in regulation and the Wizards trailing, 104-101.
Washington inbounded at that point to Wall, who dribbled near the foul line as Young got to one of his favorite spots along the right baseline a step behind the three-point arc. But before Wall was able to spot Young, he got fouled. Wall made both free throws, and from there the teams went back and forth until the frenetic end of regulation when Martin took the inbounds from Wall and sank the team's most notable shot to date.