If you’re a Washington Wizards (9-30) fan who has held on throughout the course of the season thus far, Monday night’s 98-95 win over the Portland Trail Blazers (20-21) was your reward.
Jordan Crawford’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer well after midnight on the east coast proved enough to send Wizards fans to bed with a smile on their faces. So, too, was the somewhat clumsy – but hard-earned – celebration that commenced afterwards on the court.
But, while Crawford – who posted 13 points and one rebound in Portland – was undoubtedly the hero of the game, the true promise for celebrations to come rests not in the final seconds of Monday’s contest, but in the fact that the Wizards have learned to spread the wealth and move the ball.
In addition to Crawford, Martell Webster and Nene each tallied 24 points apiece. Nene added nine rebounds and five assists, and Webster another four rebounds and six assists. Emeka Okafor rounded out the double-digit crew with his eighth double-double of the season – which consisted of 13 points and 13 rebounds. Perhaps more telling was the fact that the Wizards added Monday’s win to the books without many offensive contributions from John Wall – who added just six points – and Bradley Beal – who posted just two.
With the Wizards up 89-88 and just under three minutes left to play, rookie Damian Lillard pulled through with a monster dunk over Nene’s head to put the Trail Blazers on top 91-90. Crawford and Wall each tried to answer for the Wizards, but to no avail.
That is, until Nene stole the ball from J.J. Hickson, in time to pitch it to Webster for a dunk of his own. The play seemed to bring Wall back to life as his own dunk put Washington up 95-90 with 58 seconds remaining.
But, Lillard’s night was not over.
On the next play, he drove to the net for the layup before Trevor Ariza and Wall each missed insurance jumpers.
With seven seconds left in the game, Portland’s Wesley Matthews found the net for a 23-foot 3-pointer to tie the game, 95-95.
The Wizards – who have lost six games this season by three points or less – have dealt with their share of dramatics on the court this year. This time, however, Crawford rose to the occasion – from 31 feet away – with just three seconds on the clock. Even as the play remained under review, the Wizards knew they had it – Trevor Booker was spotted celebrating from the sidelines before the ball even came through the net.
It was not the first time the Wizards beat the Trail Blazers by one possession. On Nov. 28, Okafor’s free throws sealed the Wizards’ 84-82 win over Portland at the Verizon Center, marking the Wizards’ first win of the season.
Nevertheless, the win marked just the third road victory for the Wizards this season. Washington will face the Utah Jazz at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday in hopes of winning back-to-back away games for the first time all season.