Wizards fall short again, 102-100

Hamilton scores 38, but misses 16-footer at buzzer

Pro Basketball

April 08, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - If all goes as planned, the Washington Wizards will eventually become something more than just another quick stop on the NBA freeway, and their young gun guards Richard Hamilton and Courtney Alexander will be the fuel for the engine.

But little has gone as planned this season for the Wizards, and Hamilton and Alexander still have something to learn about developing a finishing kick as the past week, and last night's 102-100 loss to the Boston Celtics, show.

Hamilton scored a game-high 38 points, but he missed a 16-foot baseline jumper last night with 1.4 seconds to go that would have tied it. Three night ago, Alexander missed two shots in the closing minute of an 86-84 loss to Miami here.

Hamilton, a second-year guard from Connecticut, scored the first three baskets of the fourth quarter to give Washington a seven-point lead - its biggest - and took the last shot from the right side defended by Antoine Walker.

"He got a hand up, but I've made that shot [before]. It just didn't go down," said Hamilton. "We can learn from these situations and dig down and play even harder."

Alexander had 21 points but hit his only basket of the fourth with 8:10 to go for a 92-85 Washington lead.

Still, the pair shows every sign of being the nucleus that the franchise will come to rely on.

"Those guys are continuing to improve," said Washington coach Leonard Hamilton. "For a rookie and a second-year player, you have to look and see that those guys have gotten better and are playing better together as a team."

After Alexander's basket, Boston (35-42) went on a 17-8 run to finish the game, with four straight three-pointers from reserve guards Chris Herren and Eric Williams accounting for the Celtics' last 12 points. Herren's threes were his only points.`They stepped up big," said Washington forward Michael Smith. "They hit shots when they had to. We went through that little spell again, three or four minutes, when we weren't scoring or we were turning the ball over. We're getting better. We'll have to learn from our mistakes and go on to Indiana and do what we have to do."

"That seems to be the one common thread," said Leonard Hamilton. "It's not the superstars that are beating us. It's sometimes guys that are good players that have stepped up. Someone always appears to hit the big shot that has not been playing that way. It would be very easy for me to look at the negative, but I'm looking at the part that these guys continue to fight, and they are getting better."

Though Walker scored 28 points to lead the Celtics, who are one game behind Indiana in the race for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff slot, the win masked the fact that Boston was out-rebounded 46-36, and missed 12 of 27 foul shots, including Bryant Stith's two with 7.7 seconds to go that would have put the game away.

"We didn't have any energy," said Walker. "They were shooting the ball tremendous and we were not coming up with the stops. We were scoring and getting what we want offensively, so we knew that Chris Herren would come in and get some big shots in the fourth."

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