- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

The Wizards only can hope that the three referees show a spine around the Big Crybaby in Game 6 on Fun Street tonight.

The Wizards only can hope that in the final seconds of the game — if it comes down to the final seconds again — that their two best defenders in the starting lineup have not fouled out.

Caron Butler and Jared Jeffries were on the bench with six fouls, as the Big Crybaby made his journey to the basket along the baseline that culminated in a game-winning layup with nine-tenths of a second left in overtime in Game 5.

So stunned were the Wizards by this cruel twist that they failed to call a timeout that would have given them possession of the ball at midcourt and a chance to attempt a higher-percentage shot than the heave of Gilbert Arenas.

The Wizards have dropped two games in the series by one point — one on a traveling violation of the Big Crybaby that somehow went unnoticed in Game 3 — and so now they find themselves on the verge of elimination.

The officiating remains the swing element in the series, mostly because the Big Crybaby has a meltdown of 2-year-old proportions each time a call goes against him that eventually conditions the three referees to feel his pain.

Yet the Wizards left Game 5 knowing they could have performed with more conviction after the Big Crybaby sat for the final 6:53 of the third quarter with four fouls. They left the game knowing that one or two more defensive rebounds might have turned the game in their favor.

They also left the game knowing the Cavaliers had 14 more free throw attempts than them and that the absence of Butler and Jeffries hurt mightily on the final play involving the Big Crybaby, who might as well play in the diaper of a sumo wrestler.

The Wizards have no time to dwell on the Big Crybaby who has a lot of Baby Huey in him. They have no time to wallow in the disappointment of Game 5, though instant ESPN Classic it was.

This one was nearly a statistical draw, thanks to the help of the three referees mesmerized by the sight of a 21-year-old man gone infantile.

There were 28 lead changes and 21 ties in the game. The Cavaliers had 22 second-chance points, the Wizards 21. The Cavaliers and Wizards each scored 50 points in the three-second lane.

The Big Crybaby and Arenas staged an epic scoring duel, their stat lines almost identical: Big Crybaby 45 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals and Arenas 44 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal.

The Wizards have but one assignment now — a win in Game 6 that forces a Game 7 in Cleveland Sunday.

Despite the uneven officiating and the second-tier quality of both teams, these two adversaries have fashioned a worthy postseason show, save for the nauseating faces of the Big Crybaby.

The Wizards, down seven points with 1:18 left in regulation in Game 5, forced an overtime after the Big Crybaby threw away the ball and missed a shot in the final seconds.

The Wizards now must respond with the kind of fury and force that prompts the three referees to see things their way. They must respond in a way that encourages the home crowd to exercise its lung power, as the home crowd did for the Cavaliers in Game 5.

Cleveland’s supporters objected to every single call that went against the Big Crybaby and the Cavaliers, and it no doubt played on the minds of the three officials.

NBA commissioner David Stern conceded this week that the officials are missing about 5 percent of the calls.

You could argue the referees are missing more than 5 percent of the calls if the Big Crybaby is stomping his feet and threatening to take the game ball home.

This series has evolved to this point because of the 5-percent and Big Crybaby factors.

It is up to the Wizards to claim their 5 percent tonight.



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