The instant offense the Washington Wizards seemingly had been able to summon on demand was a no-show last night as they dropped their first home game of the season 105-93 in overtime to the New Jersey Nets before 15,303 at Verizon Center.
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said he sensed his team was stunned by a long 3-pointer by Vince Carter that sent the game to overtime. Although some of his players didn't completely agree with that assessment, there had to be some explanation for the Nets' 18 points in overtime on 5-for-5 shooting .
"I said it when we came back to the huddle," Jordan said. "We tried to say, 'Let's play another five more minutes. Let's get back. Get your head back in it. It's tough. There's a human element to this doggone game. We're not robots."
No indeed. But if anyone played like robots -- meaning incapable of flaws -- at any point last night, it would have been the Nets, who outscored the Wizards 18-6 in the extra period.
Carter, who finished with a game-high 34 points and seven assists, sent the game into overtime with his 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Gilbert Arenas, who came running out at him with 2.6 seconds to play. That tied it at 87-87.
Moments earlier, the Wizards (3-3) appeared to be safe after Carter had been whistled for an offensive foul against Michael Ruffin with 13.4 seconds remaining in regulation and Washington up 85-84.
Victory seemed even closer when Jarvis Hayes gave the Wizards a 87-84 lead on a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds to play. But following a timeout, Carter inexplicably got a wide-open look at the basket.
"Overtime should have never taken place, but it did," said Wizards forward Antawn Jamison, who struggled with his shooting touch (3-for-16) and finished with nine points. "We've just got to go out and deal with the situation and play five more minutes. But they came out with a little more energy than we did, and offensively they ran their plays."
Arenas led the Wizards with 25 points but like all his teammates struggled with his shot (7-for-17). The Wizards did get a double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) from Caron Butler, but the Nets clearly had them out of sync for most of the night as evidenced by Washington's 35.1 percent shooting.
On a night when the Nets (3-2) were without injured starting small forward Richard Jefferson, everyone else wearing a New Jersey uniform seemed to be on his game.
Jason Kidd was unstoppable, finishing with a triple-double: 15 points, 11 rebounds and 18 assists -- the latter equaling the Wizards' entire total. Carter led the Nets with 34 points and seven assists. Nenad Krstic added 22 points and 10 rebounds.
After trailing for the entire night -- by as many as 16 in the second quarter -- the Wizards finally took their first lead when Butler backed down Carter, spun and scored on a short fadeaway to give Washington a 79-77 lead with 4:10 to play.
Jarvis Hayes extended the lead to 81-77 when he scored on a layup with 3:33 remaining in regulation, and a Wizards victory seemed inevitable when Arenas' jumper with 50.3 seconds left made it 85-81.