Nets’ Triple Threat Dooms the Wiz­ards

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports - By Ivan Carter

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.”

BY BILL KOSTROUN — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Antawn Jamison (sea­son-high 37 points) shoots past Clifford Robin­son. Wash­ing­ton again failed to clinch a play­off spot.

BY BILL KOSTROUN — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Nets’ Josh Boone (six points, five re­bounds) botches a re­verse dunk at­tempt against the Wiz­ards.

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