Lackluster Wizards, lackluster Verizon Center … I’m not sure which bred which, but the result was an absolutely ugly opening for the Washington basketball squad. Down 31-17 after a first quarter where the Wizards shot 29.2% and committed seven turnovers (five personal and two shot clock violations), three courtesy of Caron Butler, Flip Saunders’ team found themselves trying to claw their way back into the game. And they eventually did.
With the ball, game tied at 89, and under a minute left, the Wizards offensively followed with: Caron Butler getting his show blocked by Wade, a steal with Stevenson getting fouled while out of control on a fast break, but missing both free-throws, and three missed Gilbert Arenas interior shots … once down 91-89, once down 92-89, and finally down 93-89, which was the final score. On the first occasion Arenas probably got fouled, on the second, one of his charted “shots” was really a lob to Haywood that hit rim not hands, and on the final occasion, Arenas simply missed a layup.
Anyway you slice it, the Wizards finished the final minute of the game in a sloppy manner like a team fractured on offense. But Flip Saunders remembers it differently. “I remember the first minute, falling behind by 19, not coming out with the energy that we have played previously in all the games,” said Saunders. “The basketball gods will get you and you can’t cheat the game in a lot of situations.”
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