The Washington Wizards battled through individual play Wednesday yet couldn’t manage to sink their final attempt in a 96-95 heartbreak loss to the visiting Detroit Pistons. Jose Calderon led the Pistons on a near perfect night, with 6 points, 18 assists, and only 2 turnovers, both suffered in the final minute of play. Wizards guard John Wall struggled in his match-up against Calderon and finished with a pedestrian 6 points, 4 assists, and 7 turnovers.
“Tonight we got what we deserved,” said Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman postgame, regarding Washington’s final play of the game. “We didn’t deserve to win that game. We were more caught up in ourselves as individuals than the team tonight. That’s the bottom line…that’s what this thing boiled down to, it didn’t boil down to the last shot.” With exactly one second left in regulation, forward Trevor Ariza took a three-point attempt from the corner. The shot clearly fell short of the hoop, but the amplified sound of the ball hitting the net caused confusion amongst fans and even Washington’s broadcast team.
“Nothing broke down,” began Ariza, regarding the final play, “we just–we got what we wanted, Bradley,” he paused with a chuckle, “Bradley, had the ball to make a play. Me and Martell was on the same side, he (Beal) kind of passed the ball and I think I kind of confused him by being right next to Martell so he kind of got a little bit confused.”
Ariza scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in the first half on 5-for-7 shooting yet Washington stopped looking for him in the third quarter. He attempted only a single shot in his five minutes as the Wizards fell 31-13 in the period. Ariza scored his final 8 points in the fourth, as Washington rallied back. The combination of a mic’d rim and Ariza’s hot first half surely helped sway fans–and Washington’s broadcast–into thinking Ariza’s final look was a make.
“It was a tough situation,” said Beal. “I was so open, I had a layup, but then I saw Martell’s man help. Ariza was right behind him in the corner so I was kind of in the predicament of who to throw it to and I just made a bad pass. The time went by so fast, I didn’t even know the twelve seconds were up. It was a good look it just ended up being short.”
While Ariza and Beal could look at the final play with some humor, Wall seemed to be in a depressed funk. “I think those were great passes,” said Wall, in defense of his assist to turnover ratio. “Some of my teammates aren’t catching them, some of them got tipped away. Just got to deal with it.” Not exactly what you want to hear from your floor runner.
Washington can lose three more games and achieve .500 ball. They went 7-5 in February (5-2 at home) and will kick off March by hosting the New York Knicks Friday (7:00 p.m. ET, CSN) and the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday (6:00 p.m. ET, CSN).