Maurice Williams’ NBA career has been about as average as, well, his last name.
But that all changed last night in the Milwaukee Bucks’ 105-102 victory over the Washington Wizards. The second-year guard scored 35 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer that siphoned the life out of 20,173 fans at MCI Center and sent the Wizards to their seventh loss in nine games.
In an Allen Iverson-like performance, Williams scored 17 of the Bucks’ final 21 points in the final 7:06 of the game and assisted on the only two Milwaukee baskets he didn’t score.
Williams finished the game 15-for-21 from the floor and 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
When asked whether there was any doubt Williams’ game-winner was good the moment it left his hands, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, standing a few feet away from the 27-footer, said: “No doubts. It just seemed like it left his hand and it was going to hit bottom, and it did. I don’t think any of them hit the rim.”
Williams is not exactly an NBA scrub. He was in the starting lineup for just the second time this season, but he is fourth on the team in scoring (12.6). And game-winning shots are nothing new — he hit a desperation heave to defeat Indiana 103-102 earlier this season.
“I had plenty of games like that in high school where I took over a game, but this is the first time in the NBA where I ever took over and controlled a game,” Williams said. “Tonight I kind of had it going, and Coach kept going to me.”
However, Williams wasn’t as confident as Jordan about the game-winner.
“Man, when I shot it it felt real good, but I wasn’t quite sure it was going in,” he said. “When it went in, I just had to give all praise to God.”
Williams also might have thanked rookie referee Eli Roe for whistling Washington’s Gilbert Arenas (34 points on 14-for-23 shooting) for a charging call that set up his jumper.
With 13.1 seconds left, Arenas — an All-Star in his own arena — was whistled for charging against the Bucks’ T.J. Ford (10 points, nine assists). Replays clearly showed Ford never established his footing. It also seemed to show Ford was reaching for the ball.
“I watched it five times, and it wasn’t a foul,” Arenas protested. “It was a foul on him. I didn’t even get the charge. He was falling before I got there. But he’s a rookie ref. When you get put in that situation where you have somebody who weighs 215 going against someone who weighs 165, you’ve got to make the obvious call.”
With 49.6 seconds left and the game tied 100-100, the 6-foot Ford raced in from the perimeter to hit a go-ahead layup that forced the Wizards to call a timeout.
When play resumed, Arenas — who scored more than 30 in a game for the seventh time this season — answered with a layup in similar fashion but under far more defensive pressure, forcing the Bucks to call time with 43.3 seconds left.
The Bucks failed to convert, but so did the Wizards (7-8); Arenas was called for the offensive foul, giving the Bucks possession with 13.1 seconds to play.
With the fans anticipating a spine-tingling ending, Williams delivered just that, swishing a 3-pointer and ending the Bucks’ road losing streak at three games.