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Same old feeling

Well that felt familiar didn't it? After watching this team all season and getting a feel for its up-and-down nature even when Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were healthy and ballin' like all stars, I don't know whether to feel encouraged by their competitiveness these last few games or feel discouraged by their inability to close a game out and get a win.

I mean, what would make you feel better: one win, one close loss and three blowout losses or, five close losses? I can tell you one thing having just walked out of that lockeroom: these guys need a win just to remember what it feels like. It's been awhile.

The key plays were made by the Shaqless Heat: the Jason Kapono three-pointer, the D Wade pass to Alonzo Mourning for a dunk, Wade getting DeShawn Stevenson up in the air and making one of two free throws and Doleac making one of two after he was fouled at the end.

The Wiz? Their final three possessions included a drive and very difficult reverse layup attempt by Stevenson (he missed), Antawn Jamison inexplicably passing out of the post to Stevenson who kicked the ball over to Antonio Daniels for a three-point attempt that was blocked by Mourning (he still has the energy of a 20-year old) and Donell Taylor's desperation heave at the buzzer.

The encouraging sign was Brendan Haywood showing up in a big way and giving 14 and 10 in 20 minutes, Andray Blatche playing some nice minutes in his second game back after that knee injury and Jarvis Hayes making 6 of 9 shots.

Speaking of Blatche. I witnessed a funny but telling exchange between Jamison and Blatche before the game. Blatche was sitting at his locker with about 45 minutes left before tip when Jamison walked over to his spot two stalls way and started playfully eyeballing Blatche. Finally, Blatche looked up.
Jamison to me: "What time is it?
Me to Jamison: "It's like 6:15"
Jamison, turning his attention to Blatche: "You were an all star this year or something?"
Blatche says nothing. Smiles, knowing where this is going.
Jamison: "You making 15 or 16 million or something like that?
Blatche: "No." More smiling.
Jamison: "Then why did you come over on the second bus? I ain't coming over on the second bus. Why you coming over on the second bus."
(Aside: The team can take two buses to the arena from the hotel. The first comes over early so guys can get in some early shooting, a lift, treatment, whatever. The second comes later.)

Jamison, continuing: "I've been in the league nine (darn) years and I've never come over on the second bus. OK, maybe in Dallas a couple of times because I wanted out of there. I'm never on the second bus. Why you on the second bus."
Blatche: nodding. smiling. saying nothing.

Translation: If you want it young fella, you better come get it. At least that's how I read the situation.

By Ivan Carter  |  April 11, 2007; 11:34 PM ET
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