Warriors 104, Wizards 99
Reprinted from yesterday's editions
The Golden State Warriors defeated the Washington Wizards on Friday night because of their size advantage.
Five-foot-5 guard Earl Boykins scored 16 points -- including a floating shot over guard Larry Hughes, who is a full foot taller, with 16 seconds left -- and made the Wizards feel small in a 104-99 loss to Golden State on Friday night before a sold-out MCI Center crowd of 20,173.
"I really didn't know what I was going to do until I heard [Wizards Coach Doug Collins] tell [Hughes] to back up," Boykins said of his game-sealing shot. "Once I heard Doug tell him to back up, I knew he was on his heels. As soon as he started to back up I ran at him full speed and I quicked him."
Said Hughes: "We were kind of sagging back off of penetration. He just shot it quick. He quicked me."
Boykins, the NBA's smallest player (5-5 and 133 pounds), inflicted his damage (7-of-10 shooting, four assists) in just 20 minutes.
"The little guy on the court hurt us tonight," said Wizards guard Michael Jordan (14 points, five assists). "That's tough for us, but you've got to give them credit."
Golden State (15-20) snapped the Wizards' five-game winning streak and dropped Washington to 18-18. It was the first game the Wizards lost to a team under .500 since Nov. 23, when they fell at then-winless Memphis.
Though Boykins polished off the Wizards with nine fourth-quarter points on 4-of-5 shooting, Golden State's rebounding dominance truly undid Washington. The Warriors outrebounded Washington 48-34, with a staggering 23-10 advantage on the offensive end.
Forward Troy Murphy had a career-high 17 rebounds. The discrepancy on the offensive boards allowed Golden State to score 26 second-chance points and greatly helped its 56-44 advantage in scoring in the lane. The offensive rebounds also played a part in the Warriors taking 93 shots to Washington's 80.
"Even when we stopped them we couldn't clear the ball," Collins said. "That was really the end of the game for us, when we made them miss we couldn't rebound the ball."
Wizards guard Jerry Stackhouse had a game-high 26 points. Hughes added 16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Gilbert Arenas led the Warriors with 22 points. Four other Golden State players scored in double figures and five players had at least five rebounds.
Though the Wizards' rebounding effort could have been better, players were caught out of position more than anything. The Warriors spread the floor, causing Washington's defenders to move to the outside or rotate to the perimeter, often allowing one of Golden State's big men to get a clear lane to establish rebounding position.
Washington switched to a zone defense for much of the second half, which helped some but it still got outrebounded 13-3 in the third quarter. Still, the Wizards went into the fourth period ahead 81-80.
Golden State rallied to lead by six after Boykins hit a four-foot runner in traffic, but Washington managed to tie the score twice, the last time at 97 on a layup off an offensive rebound by Charles Oakley.
Antawn Jamison answered Oakley's shot and quieted the roaring crowd with a three-pointer that put Golden State up for good at 100-97.
"Play was going back and forth and I don't know who passed me the ball but I was comfortable, had my feet set, took my time and let it go," Jamison said.
The Wizards got to 100-99 with 2 minutes 19 seconds left on a layup by Christian Laettner (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) but they failed to capitalize on the rest of their opportunities. Hughes got a layup blocked by Erick Dampier, then Oakley was called for an offensive foul with the Wizards down one with 34 seconds left.
That set up Boykins's heroics, which Arenas followed with two free throws after Jordan missed a layup.
"One of the smallest guys in the league has one of the biggest hearts," Jamison said of Boykins. "I'm not surprised at what he's doing right now. For him to be able to go in there with the big guys and get his shot off was great. He makes it look easy."