Wiz­ards Try­ing Not to Lose Faith Af­ter Rap­tors Pulled Off a Mir­a­cle

The Washington Post Sunday - - Outdoors - By Ivan Carter

Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards Coach Ed­die Jor­dan looked tired af­ter a brief prac­tice at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, the prod­uct of a mostly sleep­less night spent re­play­ing the im­age of Toronto Rap­tors guard- for­ward Mor­ris Peter­son mak­ing a mirac­u­lous, game- ty­ing three- pointer at the end of reg­u­la­tion Fri­day night.

The shot capped a bizarre se­quence that in­cluded Wiz­ards cen­ter- for­ward Michael Ruf­fin try­ing to heave the ball into the air in an at­tempt to take time off the clock af­ter he in­ter­cepted a long in­bounds pass with 1.1 sec­onds re­main­ing. How­ever, the ball slipped out of Ruf­fin’s hand and fell to the wait­ing Peter­son, who scored from 31 feet.

That forced over­time, in which the Rap­tors seized mo­men­tum and pulled out a 123- 118 vic­tory that dropped the Wiz­ards ( 38- 33) into sixth place in the East­ern Con­fer­ence. The task Jor­dan faced yes­ter­day was try­ing to get his team re­fo­cused on this af­ter­noon’s game at Mil­wau­kee.

“ We’ve won some like that,” Jor­dan said. “ Look, I hate los­ing. It’s a bur­den, it was tough, but it also chal­lenges you to stay strong and come back the next day and talk to your team. How do you keep them up­beat? That’s the chal­lenge. That’s the fun part. That’s the de­ci­sive part. How do you re­spond?”

Jor­dan’s pre- prac­tice ad­dress fo­cused on how the Wiz­ards re­sponded to Ruf­fin’s mis­take and Peter­son’s shot.

“ See­ing a shot like that has to take some­thing out of a team,” guard DeShawn Steven­son said. “ See­ing that hap­pen when you’ve got a win and there’s no time on the clock, it takes out a lot.”

With 11 games re­main­ing and a play­off ap­pear­ance all but guar­an­teed, Jor­dan wants his team to take a les­son from Fri­day’s loss.

“ You can’t be stunned,” Jor­dan said. “ You have to get it out of your sys­tem quick. It’s al­most like the anal­ogy of the de­fen­sive line stand­ing there wait­ing for the of­fen­sive hud­dle to break, like they are say­ing, ‘ We’re ready.’ That’s why I tried to get my team to go to half court early ( at the start of over­time) as if to say, ‘ We’re go­ing to make our stand right here.’ That’s what you want to see.”

Jor­dan and sev­eral play­ers de­fended Ruf­fin, whose de­fense on all- star Chris Bosh was a key to the Wiz­ards eras­ing a 13- point first- half deficit. Ruf­fin never has been a high- profile player dur­ing a seven- sea­son NBA ca­reer, but his mis­take was re­played on high­light shows all night, en­sur­ing that he’ll be re­mem­bered for a long time.

“ If it wasn’t for Ruff, we wouldn’t even had been in that sit­u­a­tion,” for­ward Antawn Jamison said. “ He did a phe­nom­e­nal job de­fen­sively on Bosh and helped us get back in the game. It’s just one of those things where some­thing funny hap­pened. He was try­ing to get the ball in the air and kill the clock but it slipped out of his hands and the guy made an amaz­ing shot. Noth­ing you can do.”

Jor­dan is con­sid­er­ing mak­ing a lineup change for to­day’s game against the Bucks ( 25- 46). Cen­ter Bren­dan Hay­wood, who has started 49 games this sea­son, has to­taled 3 points, 12 re­bounds and 0 blocks in the last four games and played only 12 min­utes Fri­day night. Jor­dan said he never con­sid­ered go­ing back to Hay­wood af­ter pulling him fol­low­ing a brief 41- sec­ond stint at the start of the fourth quar­ter.

Hay­wood sel­dom hides his dis­plea­sure when taken out of a game, and he didn’t Fri­day night. He spent the fourth quar­ter and over­time in his seat, nei­ther cheer­ing for nor greet­ing team­mates as they cy­cled in and out of the game. Hay­wood de­clined an in­ter­view re­quest fol­low­ing prac­tice yes­ter­day.

“ Maybe we make a change, maybe we don’t,” Jor­dan said. “ We need some­one to be play­ing at a high en­ergy level and we need to see that start­ing [ to­day]. There will be some di­a­logue be­tween the coaches and re­spec­tive par­ties and we’ll make that de­ci­sion.”

Jor­dan ruled out start­ing Dar­ius Son­gaila, so that would leave Etan Thomas, who made 21 starts at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, or Calvin Booth, who has made one start this sea­son. Booth briefly left Fri­day’s game with a dis­lo­cated fin­ger but re­turned to the bench and will be avail­able to­day.


Rap­tors swing­man Mor­ris Peter­son watched his game-ty­ing 31-foot heave find pay dirt against the Wiz­ards on Fri­day night.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.