MEMPHIS — Another heartbreaking loss for the Washington Wizards, folks. Make that nine games now that they have lost by five points or fewer.
Tonight the Wizards fell 116-111 in overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies after failing to close out the game in regulation. Washington had trailed by 10 points (94-84) midway through the fourth quarter and came all the way back to take a 102-100 lead. That was made possible by Randy Foye, who score five points down the stretch of regulation, Arenas, who scored five in the last 6-1/2 of the fourth, Brendan Haywood’s 1-for-2 shooting at the line to tie the game at 100-100, and Caron Butler’s 2-for-2 shooting at the line with 9.5 seconds left. Those two free throws gave Washington it’s lead. But it wasn’t safe.
Zach Randolph drove and threw up a layup in traffic. He missed. The buzzer sounded. Courtney Kirkland’s whistle sounded at hte same time. The ref said Brendan Haywood had fouled Z-Bo before time ran out, so the officials went back to the tape and ruled that Kirkland had made the right call.
Swish, swish, Randolph knocked down both shots with 0.3 seconds left, and the Wizards exiting a timeout got the ball from Foye to Arenas, who flung up a turn-around J, that rimmed in and out to bring on overtime.
But the Wizards’ mojo was gone by then. Randolph got fouled in the process of shooting and made two more from the stripe, Gasol blocked Haywood, Sam Young threw down an alleyoop jam, and Mayo — who led his team with 28 points — hit a 3-pointer to give his team a 109-104 lead.
The Wizards mounted another charge, but the basketball gods — you knew they’d get involved somehow — saw fit that Washington did not prevail. They also obviously encouraged the refferies to blow the whistle in another last-second play.
“With Memphis up 113-111, Arenas poked the ball from Marc Gasol’s grasp during a scrum and Randy Foye scooped it up and raced up court. But just as he reached half-court, a whistle was blown and the officials said Jamison had fouled Gasol, and that had prompted the loose ball.
Gasol made both shots to extend his team’s lead to 115-111, and O.J. Mayo added another foul shot with 2.5 seconds left clinching the victory.
“We just can’t get over the hump,” Arenas said. “We gave better effort today, but they got the calls they needed down the line and in overtime, and we just couldn’t get a break.”
Arenas (30 points, five assists, but four turnovers), Foye (11 points, three assists) and Jamison (24 points, 13 rebounds) all said that Gasol had lost hte ball and that Foye had taken off before the whistle had been sounded.
“I was already gone, and then I heard the whistle after I took a few dribbles, but I was already gone for a breakaway layup, so you have to juts go with what the referees call,” Foye said before coming to a conclusion: “It’s like the gods of basketball keep teasing us.”
Basketball gods, indeed. The basketball gods were unhappy with the Wizards for allowing the Grizzlies to hammer them 54-41. The basketball gods weren’t pleased with 19 assists and 16 turnovers, which went for 22 Memphis points. And they likely weren’t pleased with only 10 points out of the Wizards’ bench.
Meanwhile, Memphis had 25 assists to 15 turnovers. They didn’t even have Rudy Gay, but they still had four players score more than 20 points. Mayo had 28 points, Conley had 22, Randolph had 23 points and 19 rebounds, Gasol had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Now the Wizards have another tall task in stopping another young, potent team in Oklahoma City Thunder, who will be paying Verizon Center a visit. Last time they played, Kevin Durant & Co. thumped the Wizards 127-108.