- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Washington Wizards entered Monday night's game against Toronto with two motivating factors.

The first: Give the fans a victory to enjoy in the home finale. The second: Win to avoid finishing in a tie for the worst record in franchise history since the NBA season expanded to 82 games.

Despite holding a 13-point fourth-quarter lead, the Wizards couldn't find a way to make either happen and lost 97-96.

On Friday, the Wizards (19-62) posted a 100-98 road victory against the Raptors thanks to a buzzer-beating jumper from Caron Butler. This time around, Toronto's Chris Bosh drilled the dagger, meaning the Wizards will face Boston on Wednesday a loss away from matching the 2000-01 squad's franchise-worst 19-63 mark.

Bosh got a pass from Jose Calderon and was so wide open that he had time to pause, set his feet and bury a 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left. Bosh's 11th 3-pointer of the season gave his team a 97-96 lead.

After a Washington timeout, Butler tried to get a reverse layup in traffic to fall but missed. Bosh and Washington's Brendan Haywood battled for the rebound, but Toronto won the jump ball and time expired.

“Dain Bramage. Dain Bramage - that's the best I can say,” interim coach Ed Tapscott said, trying to mask his frustration with some levity. “You know, dain bramage, brain damage? Trying to keep something positive here. We brain-locked. We made just about every error we could make down the stretch of the game and gave that team life. … We gave them some gift-wrapped opportunities, and they took advantage.”

The Wizards turned the ball over seven times in the fourth quarter and 25 times in the game. They missed 11 of 12 field goal attempts in the final six minutes.

Bosh and Shawn Marion had 25 points and 15 rebounds apiece for Toronto. Butler led Washington with 28 points and nine rebounds.

The Wizards held a 93-80 lead, but Toronto came roaring back to pull within 95-92 with 2:09 left. The teams went scoreless the next 90 seconds, then Marion drove into the paint for a layup, but Haywood stuffed his shot and grabbed the rebound. Haywood made one of two foul shots.

The Wizards took an 80-72 lead into the fourth quarter. Things took a downward turn for Washington with 10:44 left when Antawn Jamison limped to the locker room with an injured right ankle.

In the final 6:30, Toronto outscored Washington 14-3. A layup from Marion with 21.4 seconds left capped the run.

Then came more of the brain lock Tapscott referred to. During a previous timeout, the coach stressed to his players that if the Raptors scored, the plan was to call a timeout, get the ball at halfcourt and then have ample time to work for a final-second shot.

But when Marion's layup fell, the Wizards inbounded the ball. With 15.2 seconds left, Juan Dixon was trapped by two defenders and turned the ball over.

“A timeout was definitely supposed to be called,” Haywood said. “That was a mental breakdown by our whole team.”

The Raptors capitalized with Bosh's 3-pointer, and the Wizards were denied one more time at Verizon Center.

“Basically they ran the same play they did in the last game: screen and roll, Bosh and Calderon,” Haywood said. “Last time I gave up the layup. This time I tried to cut off the layup, and Bosh popped the 3. … He made an All-Star play and hit the 3.”

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