- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2016

Alan Anderson didn’t need stitches for a small cut in the middle of his forehead after Saturday night’s game. Indiana Pacers center Ian Mahinmi had elbowed Anderson during play in the lane, slicing his head open ever so slightly.

But, the Washington Wizards‘ small forward could have used a patch for for his pride following their one-point loss to the Pacers. Anderson was called for a foul with three seconds remaining in the game. Paul George, Indiana’s prime scoring threat and one of the best in the league, made both free throws. The Wizards lost an ultra-important game by the slimmest of margins.

Anderson contended afterward that he did not foul George, who said he was “surprised” by the call that came during his baseline drive to the basket. The league said Sunday the call was correct.

After the 2014-15 season, the NBA began to issue officiating reports about any game that was within a five-point margin with two minutes to play. Saturday night’s game between the Pacers and Wizards qualified.

Anderson said he swiped at the ball from underneath, noting a chopping-down motion almost guarantees a foul call.

“Refs called foul, so it’s a foul, but, hoo…” Anderson said.

The league explained the call this way:

Anderson dislodges George’s hand from the ball and the contact affects his drive to the basket and shot attempt.”

Anderson entered the league in 2005. His main duty is to play defense, which is why he spent 24 minutes on the floor Saturday night tussling with George, who finished with 38 points. Otto Porter started the night guarding George, and George scored 16 points in the first quarter. During the Pacers’ second-to-last possession, Anderson was able to stop George in an isolation situation before fouling him on Indiana’s final possession.

“Paul George has a lot of tools,” Anderson said. “Can’t take anything away from him. Has a lot of tools. He can shoot, he can post, he can shoot the 3, he can fade away, he can go left, he can go right, so, it’s tough to guard a player like that.”

The loss, and how it arrived, was a blow for the Wizards. They missed nine free throws in a game they lost by a point. After scoring 37 points in the first quarter, they scored 35 in the second half. To make it worse, they pulled those feats against the Pacers. It cost them a possible playoff tiebreaker with Indiana and a significant swing in the standings. If Washington had won, it would be just a half game out of a playoff spot. Instead, the Wizards remain 1.5 games out of the playoffs with 20 to play.

“We needed this one in the worse way,” Anderson said. “We needed this game. Badly. Badly. [Though] we’re still in the hunt. We’re definitely still in the hunt. It’s still up to us.”

Washington starts a three-game West Coast swing on Tuesday at the Portland Trail Blazers.

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