Wizards 90, 76ers 89; Jamison Lifting Weights
Wasn't that one fun? That had to be one of the most ridiculously hilarious endings that I've seen in some time, as the Wizards beat Eddie Jordan and his 76ers in his new digs. Flip Saunders left it up his young guys and one of his oldest guys to finish the game. And they finished all right -- with a series of bloopers before getting bailed out when the 76ers' Willie Green provided the decisive gaffe.
"Both teams won it and lost it down the stretch, like two or three times," Saunders said.
The Wizards led for most of the fourth quarter, but squandered the lead late before Nick Young tied the game at 88 with an ice-cold fadeaway with 31.9 seconds remaining. They appeared to catch a break a few seconds later, when they forced 76ers guard Louis Williams into missing a layup and JaVale McGee grabbed the loose ball near halfcourt.
It would have been a great opportunity for the Wizards to capitalize and close out with a last-second shot -- but McGee didn't stop dribbling. He sprinted the length of the court, neglecting the guards on the floor and deciding that the time was ripe for a game-capping highlight dunk. McGee took off, some 10, 12 feet from the basket and whiffed badly at the layup. He cried for a foul afterward, grabbing his arm to explain what happened to a referee.
McGee said he learned a lesson from the experience. "I was thinking about dunking, but when I was going up, he smacked my arm like five times. I said okay, 'Foul.' They didn't call it. I was like, 'Man.' I definitely felt I should've held on to it. but I got to halfcourt and I waited and it opened up. I just kept going.
"We was supposed to run a play," Young explained, as McGee listened in the background. "It was like he had the devil and an angel on his shoulders. He tried to stop, but the devil told him, 'Keep going.' That's what happened."
McGee shook his head and chuckled. Young was able to laugh, but only because he had a solid fourth quarter with eight points --- and he didn't have to spend the rest of the night thinking about his silly foul with one second remaining. Green got Young stuck in the air with a pump fake, but only made one free throw.
The Wizards had drawn up a play for Young, but when he was covered, Dominic McGuire threw the ball to Mike James, who launched an airball three-pointer. But fortunately for the Wizards, Green was called for a foul after he appeared to hit James on his left, non-shooting elbow, with three-tenths of a second remaining. "They say it's a foul if the ref calls it," James said after scoring 15 points.
James calmly sank the first two free throws, but when he tried to just hit the rim so that time would run out, James decided to shoot the ball left-handed. James's shot was just a bit outside, soaring about five feet to the left and out-of-bounds, giving the 76ers one more chance to win the game with 0.3 seconds. The Wizards batted away the 76ers' final lob attempt.
"Yeah, I would've definitely gotten an H on that," James said, when asked about his H-O-R-S-E shot. "I tried the left hand shot, but I'm not going to do that no more. I thought my left has was better than that, you know what I'm saying? But obviously, I need more practice with that in the summer time."
Said Saunders, "That's what they call a learning experience."
Saunders said he was pleased with the defensive effort, coming off a disconcerting outing the night before in Atlanta. The Wizards held the 76ers to below 100 points for just the second time this preseason. The 76ers had scored 229 combined points in their previous two games against Phoenix. "Our defense was good tonight," he said. "Defensivly, we made some progress. We were not good last night. We were better tonight. I hope we continue through Friday [in Chicago]."
In addition to improving to 4-3 in the preseason, the Wizards had to be encouraged with the progress of Antawn Jamison, who started lifting weights for the first time before the game. Jamison suffered a shoulder subluxation last Wednesday in Cleveland and said he is slowly recovering the range of motion in his shoulder.
"Yeah, I've got my range of motion and can lift and things of that nature. Basketball-wise, the [medical and training staff] won't let me do any of that. But strength is up, and they're impressed as far as how fast I've been able to heal and how strong the shoulder is. Right now, it's me being patient as far as going along with the plan."
I asked if he's been able to shoot and Jamsion said, "They wont let me shoot at all. You know I want to. They said wait."
Take your time.
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