ATLANTA — They ran off the court in jubilation, arms raised in victory, believed they have finally broken through to win their first game of the season. By the time the Wizards reached the visitors locker room, they learned otherwise.
With just seconds left in overtime, Martell Webster rebounded a Kevin Seraphin miss and made the basket. The scoreboard registered a 102-101 Wizards victory. But after extensive replay scrutiny by the officials, they ruled that the shot left Webster’s hand after the buzzer. The final score was in fact 101-100, Atlanta Hawks.
The loss dropped the Wizards to 0-10, left coach Randy Wittman angry and confused, and left a locker room full of players shell shocked and devastated.
“Our video shows it good,” Wittman said. “Now if there’s two different videos, what are you going to do. They counted it, and then to come back and say it’s no good, you have to determine if it’s that close.”
The lone bright spot was the return of Nene to the court. He scored 12 points on 2-for-5 shooting from the floor, had one rebound, one block and one steal. He also went 8-for-10 from the line in just under 20 minutes.
“It was good, obviously to get him back,” Wittman said. “It means a lot for our team, his ability to play, his basketball IQ. He makes other people better, he gets to the line, does all the little intangibles that we’ve been missing.”
Seated in a corner, his left foot soaked in ice water, his knees bandaged with ice wraps, Nene admitted that he pushed himself in order to play.
“I know its a sacrifice, no miracle out there,” Nene said. ” [I was] a step slow, trying to push myself to help my team tonight. I give me best, left my all out there.”
“At that moment, I was praying for the victory,” Nene said. “It was close. It’s hard right now. But this game we proved we can do it. We just have to stick together, trust each other and pay attention to details.”
The Wizards had a chance to pull off the win, but let a wide open Kyle Korver (16 points) bury a long range three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left in overtime, forcing the Wizards to try and win it at the buzzer.
“It hurts, thats all I can say,” Webster said. “The game was right there for us to take a number of times and it came down to the last possession. For it to be taken away from us, it hurts.”
The wild swing of emotions from joy to defeat was written all over Webster’s face.
“Finally, we deserved it,” Webster said, thinking they had won their first game. “We’ve been out there working hard, worked our butts off. That’s the most important thing.”
The Wizards will take Thanksgiving off and try to regroup before a three-game homestand against Charlotte, San Antonio and Portland. This loss will take some time to get over.
“I don’t know how we’ve … I don’t know what to tell you,” Wittman said. “Try to stay in it. It’s going to fall thru it before long.”