Short-handed Wizards Earn First Division Win
Wizards 95, Bobcats 93
Thursday, March 26, 2009; Page E03
One very bad foul, several ugly turnovers, one missed free throw and two missed put-back layups all added up to a 95-93 Washington Wizards victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at Verizon Center last night.
The Wizards, who snapped a five-game losing streak, appeared to be in control with just less than a minute remaining when Nick Young (23 points) made two free throws to give them a six-point lead.
That's when things got wacky. The Wizards turned over the ball twice, Antawn Jamison missed a free throw and the Bobcats were presented a golden opportunity to force overtime with 6.5 seconds remaining after Wizards forward Dominic McGuire unwisely fouled Gerald Wallace as Wallace rose up for a layin. At the time, the Wizards led 94-91 and only a three-pointer or a three-point play could hurt them.
Wallace went through McGuire's contact to score and had a chance to tie the game with a free throw, but he missed. That's when things turned really strange.
Wallace's miss bounced directly to Emeka Okafor, who missed an easy put-back layup. Then, the ball fell right to Charlotte forward Boris Diaw, but he also missed a short putback, Jamison grabbed the rebound and the Wizards were able to escape with a rare win that severely damaged Charlotte's playoff hopes.
"I think they both just rushed the shot," said Jamison, who led the Wizards with 27 points. "I've been in that situation before at the end of a game where you know you only have so much time to get a shot up and you rush it. [Okafor] did a good job of pushing me under the basket and the ball fell right to him, so I'm just glad he missed. We finally got some good luck."
The Wizards entered the game with an 0-14 record against the Southeast Division. No team in NBA history has gone winless in division play.
"We didn't want to be the first," Young said. "Nobody wants to make that kind of history."
The Bobcats (31-40) are trying to make a good kind of history by qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in their five-year existence but now trail eighth-place Chicago by 2 1/2 games. In losing to a Washington team that dressed only eight healthy players and only one regular starter (Jamison), the Bobcats did plenty to hurt themselves. They missed 11 free throws.
To play on a phrase Charlotte Coach Larry Brown lives by, the Bobcats did not play the "right way."
"It was definitely our fault," Diaw said. "We lost this game."
The Wizards overcame 19 turnovers to win for the first time since March 15 against Sacramento at Verizon Center.