What a finish. What a game.
Washington Wizards guard Mitch Richmond made what seemed to be the game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds left, but the Milwaukee Bucks answered with an unthinkable half-court inbounds pass from Vinny Del Negro to Scott Williams, who dunked in what truly was the game-winner with two-tenths of a second remaining in double overtime.
That incredible play in a thrilling game filled with incredible plays gave the Bucks a 130-129 victory tonight at Bradley Center.
Williams slipped past Wizards forward Aaron Williams, grabbed the pinpoint pass from Del Negro and stunned the crowd and the Wizards (11-23). A desperation lob at the buzzer failed.
"We had a mental lapse at the end," Wizards Coach Gar Heard said. "We had a foul to give. We make that foul, they don't have time enough to do anything. It's a tough loss, but we have to take it as a team. That was a great effort that showed the character of this team. I just wish I could get that every night."
The loss was Washington's third straight but tonight's was unlike the Wizards' two previous defeats to lowly Chicago, in which their effort and focus were questionable. This was a hard-fought game in which both teams played as if their lives were on the line.
Backup forward Tracy Murray--who made seven three-pointers, including two in the first overtime--led the Wizards with 27 points. Richmond added 25. Rod Strickland had 24 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds. Juwan Howard added 20 points.
Bucks forward Glenn Robinson had a game-high 34 points. Ray Allen added 28 and Tim Thomas had 15.
Even before Richmond made the jumper over Thomas that seemingly sewed up the game, the Wizards appeared to have the game locked up after Strickland made 1 of 2 free throws with 5.3 seconds left in the first overtime to give Washington a 118-116 lead.
However, Bucks point guard Sam Cassell drew a contested foul on Aaron Williams with two-tenths of a second left while driving to the basket. Cassell made both free throws, then Washington failed to score on an inbounds lob to Williams, sending the game into double overtime.
"The refs bailed them out," Heard said. "There is no way you make that call with that much time left. [Cassell] went into the lane and he initiated the contact."
That final sequence appeared to take the life out of the Wizards, as players walked off the court shaking their heads, as if, somehow, victory was not meant to be theirs. Making matters worse, Strickland picked up his sixth and final foul less than 30 seconds into double overtime.
Cassell hit another free throw, then Ervin Johnson scored after an offensive rebound to give the Bucks a 121-118 lead. The Wizards committed back-to-back turnovers and center Jahidi White's layup attempt was blocked, then his follow-up missed. Milwaukee (19-15) capitalized with a jump shot that built the lead to five.
Even so, Washington did not cave.
Richmond answered with two foul shots, but Washington suffered another setback when Howard fouled out on a layin by Johnson, who made the foul shot to give the Bucks a 126-120 lead.
Richmond made two free throws and a three-pointer to pull Washington to 126-125 with 1:06 remaining. Robinson missed a jump shot.
The missed free throw by Strickland, along with a missed foul shot by Murray on a previous possession in the first overtime, could have put Washington in position to not have to go into the decisive second extra period.
Then again, Washington would not have had the chance to even play one overtime if not for Murray, who made two three-pointers in the fourth quarter, then hit a 20-foot jumper near the end of regulation to tie the score at 105.
Murray then made a three-pointer in overtime to snuff a Bucks run and bring Washington to 112-111. His next three-pointer tied the score at 116.
Washington led 101-94 in regulation, but Thomas and Allen sandwiched two three-pointers around two free throws by Strickland in the final 1:39. Allen then tied the score at 103 when he made a layup and the ensuing free throw after being fouled by Richmond on a hard drive to the basket.
Murray was called for an offensive foul on the Wizards' ensuing possession.
Allen went for the go-ahead basket, but White swatted his shot out of bounds. The Bucks set up an isolation play for Robinson, who missed a mid-range jump shot. The ball was corraled by Cassell, who was fouled by Strickland. Cassell made both free throws with 12.5 seconds left to put the Bucks up 105-103.
The Wizards called a timeout to set up an inbounds play from half court, with Strickland taking the ball on the left wing, penetrating through the lane then kicking it out to Murray, who pump-faked then launched his game-tying shot from just inside the three-point arc on the right wing.
Milwaukee took over with 3.6 seconds left. Robinson got around Howard on his way to the basket, but missed a layin.