- The Washington Times - Monday, March 5, 2007

The ending to the Washington Wizards’ 107-106 victory over the Golden State Warriors yesterday was more appropriate for a Sunday morning political talk show, the kind in which everyone disagrees about everything.

At one end stood Washington and Gilbert Arenas, who made three free throws with 0.1 seconds remaining to give the Wizards their second straight victory.

At the other stood Golden State and coach Don Nelson, who was furious guard Mickael Pietrus was called for a foul on Arenas with the Warriors up two as the buzzer sounded.

And in the middle stood referees Tony Brothers — who called the foul — and Derrick Stafford, who called a technical on Nelson after he stormed the court in protest, giving Arenas the crucial third free throw.

Nelson argued he simply walked onto the court and raised his concerns and shouldn’t have received a technical.

“For being on the floor?” Nelson said. “Eddie was on the floor. If they give me one, they have to give him one too.”

Nelson also argued the foul was called after time had expired, meaning it shouldn’t have counted.

“It was clear to me, but I’ll let you look at it and make your own decision. I’m sure the league will, too,” Nelson said.

Arenas, meanwhile, said the technical was deserved.

“If you call somebody an idiot, you have to get a technical for that one,” Arenas said about the way Nelson addressed Brothers. “There was something said before that last word [idiot] was used. If you call someone that, you have to get a tech.”

It was a crazy ending for the 20,173 at Verizon Center, as convoluted a sequence of events in the building in quite some time.

The Wizards tied the game at 104-104 on a layup by DeShawn Stevenson with 31 seconds left. Jason Richardson missed a shot with six seconds left for Golden State. Al Harrington grabbed the offensive rebound, drawing a foul by Wizards forward Caron Butler with 2.9 seconds left — a call that sent Jordan ballistic. Harrington hit two free throws, and Golden State led 106-104.

The Wizards took possession from the sideline near their basket. Stevenson triggered the ensuing play as Arenas looped to the basket for a layup. Arenas missed the attempt, but Brothers whistled Pietrus for a foul.

That sent Nelson apoplectic. He charged the court either protesting that the shot clock had expired or that the foul was inappropriate. He was assessed the technical while Brothers, Stafford and referee Jason Phillips reviewed the play and awarded Arenas the free throws.

Arenas led the Wizards with 32 points and six assists. Butler added 20 points and five steals, and Antawn Jamison finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for Washington, which played the game without starting center Brendan Haywood (sore back).

Arenas already was looking past the game’s ending when he addressed the media.

“The victory is ours no matter how it went down,” Arenas said. “Homecourt advantage is there for a reason. That’s why you call it homecourt advantage.”

Jordan couldn’t remember the last time he was involved in a game with an ending anywhere near as chaotic as yesterday’s. But he had no problem with the way it worked out.

“We knew the tech was called, and I was confident that we would get the foul call and have three free throws,” Jordan said. “You think about overtime if he misses one.”

Harrington would have settled for that. He left Verizon Center feeling robbed.

“It’s just unfortunate that the refs made a very, very, very bad call,” Harrington said. “I don’t know if I’m going to get fined for that, but that was just an awful call. Pretty much I really don’t mind the foul, because if it’s a foul and he makes two free throws, we’re playing an extra five minutes. But the technical was just ridiculous because now you just take the game completely away from us.”

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