The Washington Times - April 15, 2009, 11:45PM

     They put up a valiant effort despite starting the game with eight players but a thin roster, a third-quarter ankle sprain by Javaris Crittenton and more mental breakdowns proved too costly for the Wizards to pull out win No. 20.

     Thus ends the Ed Tapscott era and regardless of how ugly his 9-53 record was or how frustrating how rotations were, you have to feel bad for the man. He fell on the sword for the team in a no-win situation and has little to show for other than a few extra gray hairs. But Tap said he wasn’t at all relieved that the season has come to an end.

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     “You mean like our long national nightmare is finally over?” Tap said when asked if he was relieved. “No. I enjoyed coaching these guys. I have not coached in quite a while. This was a thrill. To have two captains like I had and to see some of the progress with some of the young guys, that was a thrill for me. I’m very much appreciative to those guys for hanging in there and continue to competing until the very end. I would coach tomorrow if I could.”

     You can’t accuse Caron Butler of bagging it. He went down with guns blazing, scoring a season-high 39 points, wanting very badly to finish this woeful season on a high note and avoid the 19-63 mark.

     “Just trying to finish the season strong, and like I said, the goal was to finish with 20 wins when we got to this point of the season, but unfortunately we fell a little short,” Butler said. “Had a few mental breakdowns at the end. Same thing as the last three, four games. Fortunately we were able to overcome them in Toronto, but then we weren’t able to overcome them at home against Toronto and not again tonight. … We lost Javaris and that took away our true point guard and that really hurt us and you saw the result of that down the stretch.”

     In addition to Butler’s 39 points on 13-for-20 shooting, the Wizards had 17 points from Nick Young and JaVale McGee. How McGee had only two rebounds, however, is baffling.

     I asked Gilbert Arenas afterwards what caused him to change his plan from playing the final five to six games of the season, and here’s what he had to say:

     “We decided. The coach, the coaching staff, I mean, mostly the trainers, are happy with performance that I put on,” Arenas said. “It was movement-wise, they thought I was moving well. They liked the explosion I was showing, and um, they said there was no point in playing. If we win, we don’t win, there’s no point of it. Let’s just take it as it is, we see what we like, lets get ready for next season.

    “It wasn’t up to me, I wasn’t worrying about what I did physically on the basketball court,” He continued. “I was just trying to run, react, run around the floor and get a feel. We talked to Tap and Tap said, right now we are, you can go out and play, but if we were in a playoff race this [not playing the last five games] wouldn’t have happened.”

     So …. there you have it.

     Well, we’ve got exit interviews tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.