Wiz­ards on Brink Of Be­ing Elim­i­nated

The Washington Post Sunday - - Sports - By Ivan Carter

Antawn Jamison stalked through the tun­nel lead­ing from the court to the locker room at half­time, peeled off his jer­sey in frus­tra­tion and ex­horted his team­mates to do bet­ter.

That im­age, more than any other, cap­tured the mood at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter last night as Jamison and the un­der­manned Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards were de­fi­ant but ul­ti­mately over­whelmed by the Cleve­land Cav­a­liers, who won 98-92 to take a 3-0 se­ries lead.

As he has all se­ries, Jamison car­ried the Wiz­ards with 38 points and 11 re­bounds, and he sparked a third-quar­ter run that erased a 17point half­time deficit. Af­ter scor­ing 17 points in the third pe­riod, Jamison drew the Wiz­ards to within 93-

89 with just un­der two min­utes to play in the game by mak­ing three free throws af­ter draw­ing a foul on Sasha Pavlovic.

Af­ter the teams traded misses, Wiz­ards cen­ter Etan Thomas cut the deficit to three by mak­ing 1 of 2 free throws with 38 sec­onds left. That’s when LeBron James made the key play of the game for the Cav­a­liers.

James, who did most of his dam­age in the first half, when he scored 20 of his se­ries-high 30 points, started to drive from the top of the key and was per­sua­sive enough to draw Wiz­ards guard An­to­nio Daniels away from Pavlovic. See­ing Daniels com­ing over to close off the lane, James passed out to Pavlovic, who calmly drained a three­p­ointer to give Cleve­land a 96-90 lead with 26 sec­onds left. “I had a good look at it, but Sasha had a bet­ter look,” James said of his pass to Pavlovic. “It’s all about mak­ing the bet­ter play and that was the bet­ter play. I’ve done it time and time and time again. I asked Coach [Mike Brown] can we run that spe­cific play. If that guy [Daniels] doesn’t help, I’ve got a scot-free layup and if he does, I’ve got an easy three-point shot for Sasha. It’s about trust­ing your team­mates.”

Roger Ma­son missed a three­p­oint at­tempt on the next Wash­ing­ton pos­ses­sion and af­ter Dar­ius Son­gaila grabbed the of­fen­sive re­bound, Pavlovic blocked his at­tempt at a put­back layup.

The Cav­a­liers will have an op­por­tu­nity to close out the Wiz­ards at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter for the sec­ond straight sea­son to­mor­row night in Game 4. No team has over­come a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven NBA play­off se­ries.

If Jamison has a say, the Wiz­ards won’t go down eas­ily.

In a frus­trated locker room at half­time, Jamison and Daniels, who fin­ished with a ca­reer play­offhigh 13 as­sists, im­plored their team­mates to come out with more en­ergy and smarter play in the sec­ond half.

The Cav­a­liers had taken con­trol by outscor­ing the Wiz­ards 31-16 in sec­ond quar­ter and they ended the half by get­ting three easy fast-break bas­kets from Pavlovic, who found open­ings by sim­ply out­hus­tling the Wiz­ards down­court.

“It was pretty much an em­bar­rass­ment,” Jamison said of the sec­ond quar­ter. “This is the play­offs, you’re down 0-2 and you are on your home court. It wasn’t just frus­tra­tion over be­ing down, it was the way we got down. Not get­ting back on de­fense. They got some easy fast-break op­por­tu­ni­ties. We’ve to learn from our mis­takes and I just felt that we didn’t have the fire and the en­ergy that we needed.”

The Wiz­ards re­sponded with a third-quar­ter push that was sparked by Jamison, who chan­neled his half­time feel­ings into mak­ing shots. Jamison, who scored 28 points in Game 1 and 31 in Game 2, got rolling by sink­ing a 20foot jump shot off a pass from Daniels and fol­lowed that shot with a three-pointer and a 22-foot jumper.

Jamison, who made 7 of 9 shots and scored 17 points in the quar­ter, cel­e­brated sev­eral bas­kets by click­ing his heels to­gether be­fore pump­ing his fists and en­cour­ag­ing the crowd.

Feed­ing off Jamison’s en­ergy, the Wiz­ards picked up their de­fen- sive in­ten­sity while some of Jamison’s team­mates started knock­ing down shots them­selves. Jarvis Hayes made a three-pointer, cut­ting Cleve­land’s lead to 10 and later, DeShawn Steven­son, whose shot has been off all se­ries, drained a three-pointer, cut­ting it to three.

Still, Cleve­land took a 77-75 lead into the fourth when Zy­drunas Il­gauskas made all three of his shots and scored six of his 24 points while James as­sisted on five of his team’s seven field goals.

The Wiz­ards are 2-11 since al­ls­tar Caron But­ler went out of the lineup with a bro­ken bone in his right hand, and they sorely miss the fourth-quar­ter play­mak­ing of all-star guard Gil­bert Are­nas, who tried to in­spire his team­mates by wav­ing a towel from his seat be­hind the bench.

“It’s been the same story,” Wiz­ards Coach Ed­die Jor­dan said. “We just didn’t make the plays we needed to make, again.”

BY RICHARD A. LIP­SKI — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

An­to­nio Daniels can’t cover up the fact that the Wiz­ards are down 3-0. No NBA team has ever over­come that play­off deficit.

Antawn Jamison (38 points) shoots over the Cav­a­liers’ Sasha Pavlovic. Jamison called the sec­ond quar­ter “an em­bar­rass­ment.”

BY RICHARD A. LIP­SKI — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Cleve­land’s LeBron James puts it in re­verse for two of his 20 first-half points. James fin­ished with 30 as five Cav­a­liers scored in dou­ble fig­ures in Game 3.

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