- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 6, 2006

After battling as hard as the Washington Wizards did, into overtime for the second consecutive game, who would have suspected that little-used and mostly inconsequential Damon Jones would send them reeling into the offseason?

No one except Jones and maybe Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown.

Brown inserted the long-shot specialist into the game in the final seconds of overtime and it paid off as Jones drilled the final basket that gave the Cavaliers a 114-113 victory in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series.

The Cavaliers finished off the Wizards 4-2 and now will head to Detroit to face the rested Eastern Conference defending champion Detroit Pistons in the second round beginning tomorrow.

And just like in the last game, the Cavaliers snatched what appeared to be a victory from the Wizards.

“It was a great shot,” Wizards star Gilbert Arenas said of Jones’ killer. “That’s a shooter. You sit for 53 minutes of the game, come in and then have the opportunity to win the game. You’ve got people flying at you and make the shot.”

Jones has been with eight teams in his career. Last season with Miami, he hit some big shots as the Heat swept the Wizards in the second round.

“I closed MCI Center down,” Jones said, “and the place you know as Verizon Center is no more.”

The Wizards were coming off an emotionally draining Game 5, a 121120 thriller in which James (45 points) and Arenas (44) posted career playoff highs in an intense battle that saw James score the game-wining layup with less than one second remaining.

Last night after the Wizards went ahead 113-112 on two free throws by Caron Butler, Cleveland’s Eric Snow overthrew a wide-open Flip Murray in front of the Wizards’ bench with 16.3 seconds to play.

But Arenas missed a pair of huge free throws, and the Cavaliers called a timeout with 14.1 seconds to play.

And that was all Jones needed.

After Larry Hughes (nine points, 12 assists, four steals) inbounded the ball, it found its way to Jones in the corner. Jones, who played just three minutes the entire series, calmly lined up the basket, cocked and sank perhaps the biggest basket of his career with 4.8 seconds to play and the Wizards’ Antawn Jamison running out at him.

The Wizards’ last-gasp effort ended with Butler’s 3-pointer missing the mark.

Arenas (36 points, 11 assists) got the Wizards into overtime when he sank a long 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds to play in regulation, tying the game 107-107.

The Wizards got 18 points and a career playoff-high 20 rebounds from Butler. Antonio Daniels added 22 points for the Wizards.

Cleveland was led by James’ 32 points. The Cavaliers’ bench added 57 points, including 28 from Donyell Marshall and 21 from Flip Murray.

The Wizards, who led by eight points in the fourth quarter, used Daniels’ basket and a pair of free throws by Jared Jeffries to boost their lead to 101-94 late in regulation and then went totally cold as Cleveland put together an 11-1 run over the next two minutes. Snow capped it with a pair of free throws to give Cleveland a 105-102 advantage with 14.7 left.

After Daniels cut the lead to 105-104 two free throws, Murray restored the Cavaliers’ lead to 107-104 with two of his own with 9.9 seconds left.

The Wizards actually had a chance to win it in regulation when Jamison got his hands on the inbounds pass and launched a jumper from beyond half-court that was unsuccessful.

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