Buzzer beater sinks Wizards' rally, 95-92

Left open, Barry makes 3-pointer to lift Pistons

Pro Basketball

March 08, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - In the course of the NBA's marathon season, losses come and go, and most pass from sight without a discernible lingering effect.

If the Washington Wizards are lucky, last night's heartbreaking 95-92 defeat to the Detroit Pistons will be one of those losses. But the odds don't favor it.

After mounting a furious comeback from seven points down in the final four minutes, and holding Detroit scoreless over that span, the Wizards (29-31) watched helplessly as Jon Barry took a pass from Damon Jones and floated a three-pointer that rolled around the basket and settled in as the final horn sounded.

"I feel so bad for our guys. They absolutely played their hearts out," said Washington coach Doug Collins. "Detroit, for whatever reason, makes every shot against us when it counts. It was Cliff Robinson the last time they came in here, and [last night] it was Jon Barry.

"I think they're so confident playing against us that they feel no pressure on those shots. Sometimes, you just feel like you're going to win, and I think when they play us, they think they're going to win."

On the play, Barry was left wide-open on the left baseline after Courtney Alexander moved to help Chris Whitney on Jones' drive to the basket. The Wizards had a foul to give, which could have slowed the Pistons, but Whitney elected not to take it.

"Chris got confused," Collins said. "He thought only on the one play [if Jones drove all the way to the hoop] did we want to take the foul. I feel badly because Chris feels badly. I also talked to Courtney because on that play you've got to ... stay with Jon Barry. But that's all growth. Guys haven't played many of these games."

Said Whitney: "We had a foul to give and I didn't take it. Damon came off and I thought I played good defense on him. He didn't have a chance to shoot the ball, but he made the pass and Jon just made a great shot."

The Wizards also won't soon forget their final possession, when they appeared to have been robbed of a basket, as former Washington forward Ben Wallace seemed to touch Popeye Jones' tip-in attempt while the ball was in the cylinder.

With about 23 seconds to go, Christian Laettner took the initial shot and missed, but Richard Hamilton grabbed the rebound and went right back up for a follow that rimmed out with about 18 seconds to go. Jones and Wallace battled for the rebound, and Wallace appeared to get a hand on the ball while it was up over the basket.

Collins didn't want to comment on the possible goaltending, but said, "I'm discouraged because the last three games in here, we've had very questionable decisions at the end of the games."

Asked if it was goaltending, Whitney said, "Definitely. They [officials] didn't make the call and we ended up with the loss. Those things happen throughout the course of the game and there are calls that could go either way. But this definitely is one game that we feel was taken away from us."

Perhaps, but the Wizards didn't do themselves any favors in the game, first by allowing the Pistons' bench to outscore theirs 45-27. Corliss Williamson had 23 points, including 17 in the second quarter alone, and Barry scored 13.

The Pistons, who swept the four-game season series, also got 24 points off Washington turnovers and shot 56 percent from the floor.

The loss ruined fine performances from Hamilton (24 points) and Alexander (21) in their first start together since opening night.

The loss also ruined the Wizards' chance to get back to .500 before starting a brutal stretch in which they'll be on the road for nine of their next 10 games, starting tonight in Orlando against a Magic team that dropped a 107-102 overtime game here Sunday.

"I'm sick for our guys. I really am," Collins said. "They've given me everything, and what a win this would have been, jumping on that plane to go to Orlando. Now, we've got to regroup and get on the road for a couple of games.

"It hurts like the rest of them, but this one has a little bit more significance because we set a goal to win these next three games, this being the third one, to put us back at .500. And now we have to go out on the road."

Wizards tonight

Opponent: Orlando Magic

Site: TD Waterhouse Centre, Orlando, Fla.

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WTEM (980 AM)

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