Nets’ Triple Threat Dooms the Wizards
K Nets 120, Wizards 114
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., April 7 — Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were not in the building Saturday night when the Washington Wizards faced the New Jersey Nets at Continental Airlines Arena.
New Jersey’s Vince Carter, Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson were.
That, more than anything else, explained New Jersey’s 120114 overtime victory, one that drew the seventh-place Nets within three games of the sixthplace Wizards in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The teams will meet again at Verizon Center on Tuesday night, when the Wizards (39-37) will once again try to clinch a third straight playoff appearance. The Wizards trail the Miami Heat by three games in the Southeast Division, but after losses in five of the last six games, the team simply needs to concentrate on securing a playoff spot.
As they did during Wednesday’s home loss to Charlotte and Friday’s home loss to Cleveland, the Wizards were competitive without their two injured allstars but couldn’t finish. After Antawn Jamison forced overtime by making a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation, the Nets took control in the extra period, outscoring the Wizards 16-10.
The combination of Carter (46 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists), Kidd (10 points, 16 rebounds, 18 assists) and Jefferson
(27 points), as well as a seasonhigh 17 three-pointers, simply were too much to overcome even on a night when Jamison had a season-high 37 points and 11 rebounds, and Jarvis Hayes had a career-high 29 points on 12-of-22 shooting.
It was the first time since Chicago’s Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen did it in 1989 that two teammates recorded a triple-double in the same game.
“With two of our guys out, I think we’ve been tight a little bit,” said Hayes, who made 5 of 8 threepoint attempts, including two in overtime. “We need to relax and just get that win. That’s what we have to concentrate on right now: getting one win.”
Jamison traded big shots and occasional chats with Carter, his former North Carolina teammate, but he missed all four of his shots in overtime and his efforts weren’t enough to overcome a Nets team that was embarrassed in an ugly loss at Chicago on Friday night. Carter was a monster. He opened scoring with a threepointer on an assist from Kidd, and that play set the tone. Carter’s outside shooting — he made seven three-pointers and several difficult jump shots — forced defenders to push out on him, and that invited Carter to attack off the dribble.
“When he’s making that outside shot, he’s unstoppable because he’ll just put the ball on the floor and get to the rim,” said Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, who took turns defending Carter with Hayes and Antonio Daniels.
Still, the Wizards stayed close because they were active defensively, forcing 25 turnovers and turning them into 36 points, and because Jamison and Hayes combined for 11 three-pointers.
Regulation featured a thrilling finish.
The Nets had the ball and a 10299 lead when Carter threw a bad pass that was intercepted by Jamison, who was fouled by Mikki Moore and made two free throws with 28 seconds remaining.
On the following possession, Carter drove to his right, drew the defense and passed off to Moore, who caught the ball near the rim but quickly was fouled by Darius Songaila. Moore missed both free throws, but Carter beat everyone to the rebound and was fouled with 4.4 seconds left.
Carter made both free throw attempts and the Wizards called a timeout. Normally, such a situation would be ideal for Arenas, who made shots to beat Milwaukee, Utah and Seattle this season and also made three free throws as time expired to beat Golden State.
The Wizards set up at midcourt and ran a play that had Jamison start at the free throw line before rolling to the top of the key, where he caught the inbounds pass from Daniels and made a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining. The Nets tried to lob a pass to Carter on the final possession of regulation, but the pass went high and glanced off the rim.
Though no one in the Washington locker room wanted to talk about moral victories, the Wizards have played hard without Arenas and Butler and can at least take solace in being competitive.
“I think you have to give Washington a lot of credit playing without two of their all-stars, and yet they’re using it as motivation that everyone is counting them out,” said New Jersey Coach Lawrence Frank. “And as you see, they have more than enough.”
Antawn Jamison (season-high 37 points) shoots past Clifford Robinson. Washington again failed to clinch a playoff spot.
The Nets’ Josh Boone (six points, five rebounds) botches a reverse dunk attempt against the Wizards.