The Shove That Shook The East

PHILADELPHIA - While the Washington Wizards managed to win on Monday without Agent Zero, the Cleveland Cavaliers pilfered a win in Philadelphia with the help of The Big Z Hero.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas's left elbow did more than send Samuel Dalembert stumbling into Devin Brown in the final second of the Cleveland Cavaliers' controversial 91-90 win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

It shook up the entire Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Wizards no longer have a chance to win the fourth seed in the playoffs because officials at Wachovia Center chose to make the right call after ignoring several others that led up to it.

And with these gift free throws, the Wizards will take the fifth. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

In the end, the 76ers were smarting because they won the game - and still lost. How did that happen? After Dalembert made what appeared to be a game-saving block with 0.9 seconds left, Ilgauskas shoved him into Brown. The Sixers center was then called for a personal foul with 0.2 seconds remaining that sent Brown to the foul line for the decisive free throws.

The loss, combined with Toronto's win against Miami last night, also locked Philadelphia into the seventh seed and a first round meeting with the Detroit Pistons. "You feel like you just got seriously slapped in the face," Philadelphia forward Andre Iguodala said. "It was like we had the 'W' and it was marked off."

Said, point guard Andre Miller: "It's real tough when they decided a game like that. You have to live with it. It's one game."

But it was one extremely costly game for the Sixers and the Wizards, who will open the playoffs in Cleveland for the third year in a row. It might really be huge if Cleveland and Washington have to play a Game 7 at Quicken Loans Arena as opposed to the Verizon Center. And it could also be the difference between the Sixers being around in the playoffs for five games against Detroit or possibly six games or seven games against Orlando.

Here's how it went down: The Sixers led 90-89 after Louis Williams drilled an incredible, 22-foot fadeaway jump shot with 5.1 seconds remaining. The Cavaliers called timeout and set up a play for - who else? - LeBron James.

Can y'all believe we stole this one? (AP Photo/H. Rumph, Jr.)

James took the inbounds pass, and charged toward the basket. He appeared to get nudged by Andre Iguodala, then bumped into Williams. As James went up for a shot, Dalembert jumped to contest it and swatted it the opposite direction.

Brown corralled the ball and went straight up, when Dalembert came diving at him head first. Brown's shot came up well short. As the buzzer sounded, the Sixers players started celebrating and heading toward the locker room. A referee waved off Brown's shot and the fans started cheering loudly. Through all the noise, no one seemed to notice or hear that referee Greg Willard had blown his whistle.

"There's contact on the play by Dalembert," Willard told a pool reporter after the game. "Any time you have a play at the end of the period, that's reviewable, which is field goals and fouls, we go over and review them regardless. It's not a matter of whether somebody waved it off."

There is no debating that Dalembert ran into Brown while he was attempting a shot before time expired, but the referees ignored the fact that there is no way that Dalembert could've fouled Brown without a little help. He jumped straight up and down, yet his momentum somehow sent him rolling forward? Uh no. The Big Z Hero pushed him. Dalembert was adamant after the game.

"After I jumped and I blocked the shot and I got pushed. Ilgauskas pushed me and I was off-balance," Dalembert said. "You can see on the play, his forearm. He pushed me in the air."

I don't remember anything, Sam. Not even this. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Replays after the game support Dalembert's claim. After he blocked James's shot, Dalembert landed in front of Ilgauskas and Ilgauskas shoved Dalembert off of him. Asked about the push after the game, Ilgauskas pled amnesia after a reporter told him that Dalembert got hit with an elbow.

"Really? I don't know," Ilgauskas said.

Ilgauskas was then reminded that he was the one who delivered the elbow.

"Who me? To Dalembert? I don't remember that," Ilgauskas said, adding that he and Dalembert had bumped heads at the beginning of play, which may have damaged his memory. "I couldn't see much. I had tears coming out of both eyes. I saw a couple of stars."

Dalembert was out of sorts as well. He bounced off of Brown and wobbled to the basket support, where he rubbed his head. He was hurting, but happy. "I was thinking, 'Oh, yes, we won the game," Dalembert said. "I was so excited."

Then, his face began to scrunch up. Did the officials really call a foul? You can understand LeBron James getting a foul called in the final second. He's a superstar. Superstars get calls, often bogus ones, in the final seconds. But Devin Brown?

After the game, Brown admitted that he was shocked to have the call go in his favor.

"I wear 33," Brown said, "not 23."

Yes, Devin. This is the jersey of the Cleveland player who normally gets controversial fouls called in his favor in the closing seconds. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Most of the Sixers were already gone while the officials huddled at halfcourt for several minutes. Some members of the Cavaliers leaned over their shoulders trying to sneak a peak. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Ilgauskas's push could not be reviewed. When the referees determined that Brown would be given two free throws with 0.2 seconds remaining, the crowd booed loudly and the Sixers had to get summoned back from the locker room.

"What can you do?" Dalembert said. "I didn't think they would go back and try to pinpoint that [foul on Brown]. If they were going to call the foul before that [when Ilgauskas pushed him], I would've said okay. There is so much stuff you can say. You can say [James] traveled on the play. You can say I got pushed. You can say a lot of stuff."

Miller attempted to psyche out Brown before the free throws by walking in front of him. Brown calmly sank both shots and the crowd booed some more.

After Williams missed a desperation heave at the buzzer, Miller grabbed the ball and punted it into air. He watched it soar high above the Jumbotron. When the ball landed again, Miller hurled the ball into the stands. It was fan appreciation night, but surely the Philly fans would've taken the win over the souvenir basketball.

I thought the fans were going to storm the court in protest, or at least throw stuff, because this was, after all, Philadelphia. But they were rather subdued to be so upset. Iguodala was among several players crying foul. He waved off the officials and shook his head as he left the floor.

"We didn't know they were going to review it," Miller said. "I thought the game was over. I was taking off my ankle braces. We had the win but the refs brought us back and reviewed it. That's the decision they made."

Current Cleveland and former Philadelphia guard Eric Snow was hanging out in his old locker room, talking to some his former teammates after the game, when Dalembert emerged from the training room with a huge lump on the left side of his forehead.

"Quit fouling," Snow told him.

Dalembert glared at Snow and grabbed a towel.

"You fouled out on the play, too," Snow said, shaking his head and smiling.

Dalembert shouted back, "You guys can't beat us. We deserved to win this game."

That may have been true, but the Sixers still lost. And so did the Wizards.

By Michael Lee |  April 15, 2008; 6:31 AM ET
Previous: Arenas and Butler out | Next: Tuesday update


Please email us to report offensive comments.

What a disappointment, I went to bed thinking the Wiz still had a good chance for 4th. Buckhantz announced that the game was final on a 76ers win just before he signed off and I double checked the box score on

Posted by: KayBee | April 15, 2008 7:01 AM

I cannot figure out why the league and the refs keep propping 'Queen James' up. They want this guy on TV so bad. This guy is so overrated. I can't stand his is so ugly. I'd rather watch Kobe play any day. Lebron scowls after every play because he thinks he is fouled or he didn't foul anybody when the fact is he travels on most plays and he does commit fouls that aren't called by the ref.

Posted by: Ballas | April 15, 2008 7:45 AM

Justice will be served...Wizards in four.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 7:53 AM

The NBA's crooked officiating strikes again.

Posted by: GottaB | April 15, 2008 8:11 AM


Posted by: sodumb | April 15, 2008 8:59 AM

The NBA is doing everything in it's power to make sure LaTravel has everything at his advantage. And that also means homecourt advantage. I think the Cav's and the league both no they are going to be in some trouble playing the Wiz, so homecourt might tip the scales in a 7 game series.

All I can say is get ready for some really bad calls and non calls from the officials during this series. LaTravel gets calls that took MJ and Shaq 7 to 8 years to get. I agree with the earlier poster about Kobe. The dude might be arrogant, but at least he does not walk every time he gets the ball and does not charge into people and get defensive blocks called instead of charge calls.

I use to really like LaTravel, but the dude has become a big crybaby now. He acts like he can do no wrong. The dude use to be humble, but not anymore. That is why I am glad DStevenson called him out like he did. Somebody had to do it.......

Posted by: Bullets Fever #1 | April 15, 2008 9:04 AM

Another reason the Curse of Les Boulez lives.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 15, 2008 9:12 AM

I also like the fact that DS called LeBronia out but I'd like to see EJ put a gag order on the team before the playoffs begin. At this point, don't say anything that the Traveliers could use as motivation.

Go Wiz!

Posted by: The AntiDCMan | April 15, 2008 9:12 AM


Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 9:14 AM

I watched the ending of that game and Phillie was robbed! And the smirk on Letravel's face when they called it in favor of Cleveland pissed me off. This dude can play no doubt, but I am getting a little sick of all of the privileges their team gets because of him. Man, I hope that Gil and the boys put their money where their mouth is and wipe the Letraveler's out. One and done is the only answer for your royal Highness :-(

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 9:22 AM

That's funny, KayBee, I did the same thing you did. Heard Buck say the Sixers had won, verified it on But, I stayed up to watch the highlights of our boys on NBATV Gamenight and watched the Cleveland debacle unfold incredulously.

I'm not one for conspiracies, but seriously! How do you NOT make that travel call?! And, to then go ahead and award the Cavs 2 free throws?

Maybe LeBron is the future of the league, and if that's the case, maybe I don't want any part of its future. You can't tell me that a Boston Three Party v. Agent Zero, Tough Juice, and 'Twan series wouldn't be as big, if not bigger, a thriller than another LeBron one-man show.

Posted by: Eric | April 15, 2008 9:28 AM

This is reason why I prefer to see the Magic than the Cavs in the first round. We all know LBJ will get all calls and non calls in the series. Aside from DS the Wiz don't have a player who is known to be a defensive stopper / flopper so they will always gets the blocking instead of a charge called.

Posted by: Fortune Teller | April 15, 2008 9:29 AM

Any news/guess as to dates and times for the playoff games yet?

Posted by: Kev | April 15, 2008 9:29 AM

Does it really matter if the Wizards have home court? They're going to lose for the 3rd straight year to a superior team with a real superstar, not a jump shot who has a blog

Posted by: agentZEROdefense | April 15, 2008 9:49 AM


There is so much crying on this blog about the Cav's win that you would think it was Les BouleS who lost. I think it's a precursor to what will happen if the refs blow even a single call during the playoffs for Les BouleS!

You're not the "chosen one" for no reason. Stern has chosen him to carry the torch. Gilby is lucky he's not blacklisted by Stern after his choice words when he was cut from the World Championship tryouts.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 15, 2008 9:52 AM

"Does it really matter if the Wizards have home court? They're going to lose for the 3rd straight year to a superior team with a real superstar, not a jump shot who has a blog

Posted by: agentZEROdefense | April 15, 2008 9:49 AM "


Posted by: DC Man88 | April 15, 2008 9:55 AM

Does it really matter if the Wizards have home court? They're going to lose for the 3rd straight year to a superior team with a real superstar, not a jump shot who has a blog

Posted by: agentZEROdefense | April 15, 2008 9:49 AM

Hmmm... a superior team? They are two games better than the Wizards - who were without Gilbert for 60+ games. I guess they have a little more than a "jump shot who has a blog".

Why am I even arguing with this toolbag?

Posted by: Kev | April 15, 2008 9:58 AM

This should remind the Wizards to be mentally prepared to get hosed by the refs in the upcoming series. They'll have to overcome that to win.

But if the Wizards want to blame someone for getting the 4th seed, they should blame themselves and that pitiful performance when they lost to LeBron and the D-League All Stars right after the Cavaliers made that midseason trade. If the Wizards won that game, they would lock up the 4th seed with a win on Wednesday or a Cavaliers loss.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 9:58 AM

I'm really getting excited about this Cavs matchup. All the drama is there. Although, I disaggree with Stevenson saying Lebron is overrated, I'm glad he said something. I hate to say it but Lebron is the real deal, but he had to say something because Lebron was talking ish behind Stevenson's back to Drew Gooden. Plus the Wiz have lost to the Cavs 2 straight years in the playoffs.

I think the Wiz have said all they needed to say. They are showing that they are not afraid of the Cavs and Lebron and they want the challenge. But they need to stop talking now. We don't want to motivate the Cavs anymore. We showed them we aren't backing down so everyone needs to stay quiet now. Let the play do the talking, like they did against the Cavs last game.

The previous 2 yrs they had Hughes to guard Arenas and Drew Gooden gave Jamison trouble offensively and defensively. They are both gone now. If there weren't any refs Wiz would in in 5, but since there are refs Wiz will in 6.

Posted by: Bangladesh | April 15, 2008 10:15 AM

Bangladesh's last paragraph is right on point.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 10:29 AM

Does anyone know when the playoff schedule will be anounced? I have a trip planned and need to make sure I'll be in town before buying tickets. Can I save the service charge by buying tickets at Verizon Center? Last year I think they had to discount tickets in order to sell out the arena, is that correct and if so does anyone remember the details?


Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 15, 2008 10:31 AM

I think the playoff schedule will be announced Thursday morning.

Posted by: Smith | April 15, 2008 10:42 AM

I hate to nitpick after a win, but Songaila and McGuire were visibly tired at the end of the game last night. I wonder why Blatche and Haywood were not brought in?

I'm excited about the Wizards-Cavaliers playoff games! I want Cleveland to lose so badly so LeTravel can scowl some more full time.

Posted by: rgz | April 15, 2008 10:53 AM

it's real unfortunate that David Stern cares so much more about people who don't watch basketball tuning in, then he does about delivering a quality product to those of us who LOVE to watch basketball. as a fan of the sport i am almost embarassed sometimes by some of the sh*t these res try and pull over on us.
i used to laugh at my friends who only watched college sports and laughed at my pro sports love. now, i'm not so sure. it's no fun when the game is rigged.

all that said, we better be up by at least 7 points with 4 minutes left in any one of these games if we want a FAIR chance to win it ON OUR OWN

Posted by: el duderino | April 15, 2008 10:54 AM

Something I just realized that is completely different about this year, AJ now gets to guard zero-offense Ben Wallace, meaning he will not get picked on as he has in the past. He'll also force Wallace to guard him around the perimeter, keeping his shot blocking out of the lane. I like our matchup there.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 10:56 AM

I was thinking the same thing, The AntiDCMan. We need to STFU and just play ball. Telling the Cavs that they have been average since the trade may be true but serves us no purpose. All it does is motivate the average guys on their team to work harder to beat us. We can beat LeBron but if his scrubs start hitting shots, it's gonna be tough on us.

Posted by: mark | April 15, 2008 11:00 AM

EJ on the Cavs/Sixers finish:

"Cleveland made two free throws to seal home-court advantage with 0.2 seconds left," Jordan said. "It was a very questionable call."

I wonder if the league can fine a coach for criticizing the officiating of a game his team didn't play in?

Posted by: kalorama | April 15, 2008 11:14 AM

Anon, Ben Wallace's days as a premium defender who scared people, rebounded well and actively patrolled the lane are gone. This is a matchup that is heavily in our favor. I'd actually rather see him out there at the 4 than Joe Smith. We need to find a way to keep Wallace in the game. Since AJ doesn't draw a lot of fouls, we're looking good at that position. This is the way I see it:

C - Advantage, Z. He's used as more of a scorer and has more respect from the refs.

PF - Huge advantage Jamison. better rebounder and scorer than Wallace.

SG - advantage, DS. Surprisingly, DS is shooting much better from 3 point range and scoring more points than Sasha. Add in the fact that he's playing his best ball and he should win this matchup. He may guard LJ, so this may be closer than it should be due to DS being worn down.

SF - advantage LeBron. face it, he's better than CB in every facet of the game. Fortunately, they probably won't guard each other, so CB should be able to counter some of LJ's totals.

PG - slight advantage, AD. This is almost a wash but AD's veteran leadership and low turnover rates make him a better PG than Delonte West.

Bench - advantage Wiz. Anytime you can bring in GA off the bench, you have the advantage. Although Sideshow Bob, Joe Smith, Boobie and Wally have potential, GA, AB, Songaila and RM have been playing together longer and have the ability to change a game.

Posted by: mark | April 15, 2008 11:15 AM

i forgot...
coaching - even. EJ has better players to throw at Cleveland and his offensive system is hard to stop when it's clicking. Brown is a much better coach at the defensive end. Conventional wisdom says that defense wins in the playoffs. This makes it pretty even to me.

Posted by: mark | April 15, 2008 11:28 AM

On trash talk and the extra motivation it supposedly provides: If any team or player needs extra motivation to get up for, or play his best in, a playoff series, then they need to take up commentating and leave the ballin to ballers...

Posted by: jones-y | April 15, 2008 11:48 AM

LeTravel was not fouled on his drive. But he did walk. Big Z made the push, and that's the call that should've been made. But what are you going to do at this point? No use complaining about it because it's finished. Time to go to Cleveland for a Wizards victory.

Posted by: Colin | April 15, 2008 12:00 PM

Mark, I am not sure you can give the advantage to Z at the center position. In the past Haywood has done pretty well against Big Z, to me it is a question of whether EJ uses him or not.
On the referee front, my biggest concern is how the Wizards handle it when the inevitable crappy officiating comes. The Wizards can't let it bother them beyond when the call is made. They can't go crazy over it.

Posted by: George Templeton | April 15, 2008 12:11 PM

Couple responses:

In terms of last year's playoff tix-they probably didn't sell out due to the fact that neither Grill-bert or Caron were playing. And, if you buy them at the box office, you should be able to side-step the service charge.

As for matching up with the Cavs, Sasha Pavlovic could miss the playoffs with a severe ankle sprain. And, let's not forget that BTH usually has a way of getting under Big Z's skin. All in all, should be highly entertaining.

Posted by: Eric | April 15, 2008 12:17 PM

The X factors for Cavs will be Wally S and Gibson OR D. Jones. For the Wiz, it will be R Mason and A. Blatche. If the bench click for the Cavs then I think it will go to 7 games.

Posted by: Dave, | April 15, 2008 12:23 PM

For what it's worth, it can be quite a bit easier for fans to see traveling violations than it is for the refs. With only three refs on the court, as I understand it, there isn't necessarily someone watching players' feet the whole time. They have to be looking for contact, ballhandling, and positioning, away from the ball as well as on the ball.

So yeah, I do think LeBron gets away with travels probably more than non-superstars, and very possibly it was a missed call in the Philly game last night, but I think lots of players get away with walking sometimes. Probably the more egregious miscall (from what I've read, I didn't get to see any of it) was their not seeing Ilgauskas push Dalembert into Brown. You'd think if they could see Dalembert fall into Brown, they could also see Big Z causing it with the push...

Posted by: Josh | April 15, 2008 12:25 PM

Two games better than the Wiz after having Lebron gone for 6 straight losses, tons of key injuries, and then changing their entire team 3/4 of the way through the season (something that effects the regular season where you playing a different team every night way more than the playoffs where they can concentrate on one team at a time for a long time).... I'm a Wiz fan, but there is no way they win more than 2 games this series, and I'm being generous with the two. AJ may not have to guard Gooden anymore, but he's not scoring very much with Varejao and Wallace guarding him 24/7. Z is having the best season of his career and will make a fool out of Haywood. LeBron will do his thing, and embarrass Stevenson, he'll probably also guard Arenas more than we think as he's quietly become a very above average defender. Pavlovic may be gone, but he really hasn't been there all season, and Devin Brown and Damon Jones (his likely replacement) are both playing very well right now.... I don't see how the Wiz can do anything but complain all the way to a 3rd straight early playoff exit.

Posted by: AgentZEROdefense | April 15, 2008 12:42 PM

The Zards are one of the worst teams in the NBA at defending the 3. I expect Mike Brown to gravitate toward his best 3 point shooting lineup IF we can clog the lane. No team does more for Damon Jones' career than the Zards. Gibson and Wally could be on the floor in those spots as well.

Good thing about that is that its one of Cleveland's worst defensive lineups and drove Brown crazy after the trade. His defensive schemes are excellent but not when the new guys are busting them.

EJ needs to set the tone early using a physical defense to protect the rim including hard fouls when necessary. I know its not football but the old axiom does apply to playoff basketball, "Hit him before he hits you."

Posted by: Monte | April 15, 2008 1:06 PM

It's funny how CAV's fans are acting like they are Wiz fans and say stuff like...

"...but there is no way they win more than 2 games this series, and I'm being generous with the two. AJ may not have to guard Gooden anymore, but he's not scoring very much with Varejao and Wallace guarding him 24/7. Z is having the best season of his career and will make a fool out of Haywood. LeBron will do his thing, and embarrass Stevenson, he'll probably also guard Arenas more than we think as he's quietly become a very above average defender. Pavlovic may be gone, but he really hasn't been there all season, and Devin Brown and Damon Jones (his likely replacement) are both playing very well right now.... I don't see how the Wiz can do anything but complain all the way to a 3rd straight early playoff exit."

Yeah we believe you, you are a big Wiz Fan.

Too bad we don't have many Wiz fans that are losers with a lot of time on their hands and do the same on the Cav's site. If any wiz fans do have time, please go to the CAV's site and talk trash too.

Get the hell out of our Forum and worry about your own damn team.

Posted by: Bangladesh | April 15, 2008 1:19 PM

What would have happened if the 76ers refused to come back out on the court? Can you imagine the publicity that would have generated? Sure, they would be fined, but think of the statement it would have made.

Or better yet, just send out 2 tall guys to get a rebound in case of a miss, but not a complete 5.

Posted by: Dsmac | April 15, 2008 1:27 PM

"Too bad we don't have many Wiz fans that are losers with a lot of time on their hands."

Um, I think this blog has disproved that notion time and again.

Monte makes a good point about how the Wizards' poor perimeter defense gives the Cavs 3 point shooters a real advantage. The Wizards' collapse-into-the-paint defensive philosophy could really bite them in this series. It's something to watch.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 15, 2008 1:33 PM

Mark, I am not sure you can give the advantage to Z at the center position. In the past Haywood has done pretty well against Big Z, to me it is a question of whether EJ uses him or not.

Posted by: George Templeton | April 15, 2008 12:11 PM

In the games against Cleveland, Eddie Jordan has shown that he wants Haywood in the game when Ilgauskas is in.

In the 3 games that Ilgauskas played against the Wizards in the regular season, he averaged 14.7 ppg (70%) and 8 rpg. Right about his average for the year.

In the 4 games that Haywood played against Cleveland, he averaged 13.8 ppg (65%) and 6.3 rpg. A few ppg higher than his average for the year.

The point is that the Haywood / Ilgauskas matchup should be a push.

Posted by: Rook | April 15, 2008 1:35 PM

And Damon Jones needs to find his rear end planted in the second row - the first time he touches the ball!!

Posted by: Rook | April 15, 2008 1:39 PM

typical lebron (or his team) getting garbage calls from the refs. dont act like this is a surprise, we've seen it in the playoffs for 3 yrs. Lebron and co get every call. I cant even speculate on the countless number of times that Bron has taken 3 steps, barely got touched, then made a layup for a 3 pt play. It's embarrassing.

Posted by: tony | April 15, 2008 2:04 PM

Wizards in 5! WHo would you bet your money on? Wally Scijrfioek (he doesn't deserve his name spelled) or Caron? Our Bench is better even if Gil started. Brendan owns Z. Only thing that stops us from sweeping is the gamble happy refs. I hate Cleveland. BTW, Boston is just as overrated as Lebron. If it wasn't for Detroit, I'd say the Wiz would make it to the Finals.

Posted by: C.Bell | April 15, 2008 8:40 PM

Just from Washington having a (nearly) full strength line-up vs. what they had last year suggests this will be a competitive series. Add in that Cleveland made a pretty dumb trade a few weeks ago, and have very little chemistry now, and I like the Wizards. I see winning one on the road, then two at home, losing 5, then coming back to win 6 in CLE.

Posted by: Andrew | April 15, 2008 9:48 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company