- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 6, 2006

Damon Jones hit the jump shot that sent the Wizards tumbling into the offseason last night on Fun Street.

Jones, in his first appearance of the game, sank a 20-footer from the left baseline that was set up after Gilbert Arenas missed two free throw attempts with 15 seconds left in overtime.

Before his second free throw attempt, LeBron James stopped in the vicinity of Arenas to express a few words.

Arenas drained a 30-footer with 2.3 seconds left in regulation to force the second consecutive overtime game in the series.

The downtown shot was necessitated after the Wizards squandered an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter and Arenas missed a layup in the closing seconds that would have given the Wizards a one-point lead.

The shot by Arenas was reminiscent of his long 3-pointer near the end of the first quarter in Game 2.

The feel-good tone of the contest changed after Jared Jeffries missed shots on three consecutive possessions near the end of the first quarter and Arenas and James crossed paths near the rim that ended in an eruption.

Arenas was looking to dunk the ball after stealing it in the midcourt. James was looking to erase the mistake.

Arenas soared to the rim, with his left arm extended, as James raced from the left side of the court to block the shot. There was contact. A foul possibly could have been called on the block of James or the left-arm extension of Arenas.

Referee Tony Brothers took the third option: no foul.

Arenas jumped to his feet in a snit after Brothers’ attempt to be neutral.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was equally miffed and had to be restrained by Antonio Daniels.

The objections of both coach and player resulted in technical fouls.

The momentum the Wizards established at the outset was eroding at this point. Their 14-point lead was reduced to seven by the end of the first quarter.

The Wizards spent the rest of the first half trying to re-establish their good feelings.

It was not easy.

James was stressing the defensive rotations of the Wizards again, and Donyell Marshall came off the bench to reprise his effectiveness in Game 1.

The cause of the Wizards was not helped by the early foul trouble of Antawn Jamison. He sat out almost nine minutes in the first half and had only four points and two rebounds.

James was cited for his first foul just before halftime, which drew a cheer.

Caron Butler showed up with a deep well of passion.

He had a double-double by halftime, with 10 points and 10 rebounds and a good number of floor burns.

The fire in his eyes said, “We cannot let this season end, not now, not in our house.”

The Wizards led by one point after 24 minutes — an unsettling position for a team confronted with the prospect of a long offseason.

Neither team could wrest control of the game in the third quarter, and another tight finish appeared destined.

The hearts of the Cavaliers picked up a beat after Brendan Haywood bear-hugged James with 9:56 left in regulation. James dropped to the floor in pain. Whatever it was, it was not induced by the velocity of Haywood’s hit.

Why, Haywood even had the courtesy to hold up James on the play.

Following a timeout, James appeared somewhat disoriented. He missed both free throw attempts and then lost control of his dribble on an ensuing possession.

This brought to two the number of Haywood-inspired hits that seemed to unnerve James in the series.

Neither was especially brutal. Haywood is not to be confused with Dennis Rodman.

The semi-hard hit of Haywood in Game 2 merited barrels of ink and lots of air time only because of James’ unconvincing response to it.

Not surprisingly, these two teams went at it to the end.

The Cavaliers went on a binge of 3-pointers in the waning minutes that left the Wizards uneasy.

Flip Murray hit a 3-pointer, then Marshall, then James and then Marshall again as the Cavaliers closed to 101-97.

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