Tom Knott: Some backbone arrives just in the nick of time

The sun rose from the west, the world decided to give peace a chance and referee Bill Spooner called LeBron James for a traveling violation with 2.3 seconds left Sunday.

Spooner’s was an unexpected display of backbone, an area of the skeletal frame that is usually found lacking in referees in the waning seconds of a tight game involving James.

His hops, skips and jumps to the basket are usually ignored out of deference to his hallowed place in the NBA.

Spooner’s decision to enforce a rule as it applies to everyone else allowed the Wizards to defeat the Cavaliers 80-77 after they desperately tried to relinquish the game.

“It called itself,” Spooner said of the blatantly obvious violation.

Yet the Wizards know from past experiences that all too many referees in the NBA have a tendency to ignore the blatantly obvious with James.

That, too, is possibly in the rule book, written in secret code.

Hard feelings between the two teams persist partly because of the favoritism extended to James and his tendency to whine whenever he does not get his way.

DeShawn Stevenson and James sniped at each another throughout the game, although the injured Stevenson was consigned to the bench in street clothes.

Both teams endured plenty of frustration.

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was chased from the game with 6:33 left after he completed a nearly 94-foot dash down the sideline to make what was an undoubtedly eloquent objection to an offensive foul assessed to the anointed one.

There is no telling how Brown would have responded if he had been courtside in the final seconds. He possibly would have raced around the arena floor and done somersaults to demonstrate his disgust with Spooner.

Not that the Wizards were a paragon of calm during the run they knew the Cavaliers would make.

The Wizards led by 16 points after Caron Butler converted two free throws with 10:51 left. The Wizards, in being the Wizards, could not let this prosperity stand.

They pieced together an abysmal fourth quarter, punctuated by rim-damaging shots, ill-advised shots, poor decisions and unforced turnovers. It was enough to make the long-suffering fans of the team say, “Not again.”

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