WASHINGTON, April 17 (Ticker) --
The Washington Wizards love living on
On the verge of a loss to the undermanned Charlotte Bobcats, the
Wizards scrambled down the stretch for a 106-104 victory as
banked in a runner with 1.3 seconds left.
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scored 28 points, Gilbert Arenas
added 27 and
Jamison 26 with 13 rebounds for the playoff-bound Wizards
(45-35), who improved to a staggering 17-6 in games decided by
three points or less or in overtime.
"It's almost like the basketball Gods were looking out after
us," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan
Washington has won seven of its last eight one-possession games
but looked like it was going to lose this one. Expansion
Charlotte, playing without injured big men Emeka Okafor
, led by as many as 11 points and still held a
104-100 advantage on a jumper by Keith Bogans
with 1:34 to go.
The Wizards forced a turnover that led to a breakaway dunk by
Hughes that halved the margin with 1:10 left.
After another giveaway, Arenas missed a 3-pointer but atoned
with a driving layup, drawing a foul. His missed free throw
left the score tied with 27 seconds left.
Charlotte's Brevin Knight
missed a jumper. Instead of calling
timeout, Hughes raced upcourt and had the ball poked away from
behind - right into the hands of Jamison, who threw in the
Knight missed a desperation 55-footer at the horn as Charlotte
(17-63) dropped its second straight contest.
"It's a done deal, but the guys in that locker room deserved
better than they got," said Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff
who felt Knight was fouled on the penultimate possession. "They
played their hearts out. It's basically just a lack of respect
(from the referees)."
The Wizards won their fourth straight game and kept the pressure
on Chicago (46-34) in the race for fourth place in the Eastern
Conference and home-court advantage in the first round of the
"We weren't worried at all," Hughes said. "We were having fun,
really. There were lots on the line. We had an opportunity to
move up and stay aggressive, but we like to have fun. It was a
fun game with a lot of back and forth. Then we needed to get
some stops and not turn the ball over and win the game."
Rap star Nelly, a part owner of the Bobcats, sat baseline and
yelled "Don't!" almost every time a Wizard shot a free throw.
"He got me," Jamison said after missing the second of two free
throws with 3:36 left and the Wizards trailing, 98-95.
"Yeah, that's my man," said Hughes, who knows Nelly from their
hometown of St. Louis. "He's rooting for his organization, but
he still had a St. Louis hat on, so we had ties over on this
side. I was the guy he called to find out how many tickets he
scored a career-high 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting
for the Bobcats, who played without injured primary big men
and Primoz Brezec
. Bogans added 19 points for
Charlotte, which had six players in double figures.
"I got some very good open looks today and was able to get to
the free-throw line and hit my free throws, said Carroll, who
was 6-of-10 from the field and 8-of-8 from the line. "I like
playing at this arena. Before I got to the NBA, I was 6-0 in
the MCI Center (in college)."
While the Wizards excel in close games, the Bobcats have lost
eight contests in the waning seconds.
"It's tough to swallow because you try so hard to win a game and
you think you have it with a minute to go," Carroll said. "One
thing it's taught us is the game is never over until there's no
time on the clock. Our goal was to knock a couple teams off in
the playoff run and we came close."