The Wizards' 115-113 double overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center could've ended twice in favor of the visitors. It should've ended the same number of times with a Wizards victory.
But after leading by 14 points in regulation and eight points with 87 seconds left in the first overtime, their highest-scoring outing of the year transformed into the most gut wrenching defeat of an already monumentally tough season.
"It's just an effort like that," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, "It hurts. It goes wasted."
Joe Johnson (18 points) put things to bed for the Nets (18-15) on a step-back jump shot with 0.7 seconds in the second overtime. The game should've never gone that late.
The previous overtime had the crowd of 16,006 ready for celebration, broken open by an 8-0 run. The Wizards (4-27) hit three of their first four extra session shots, taking a 101-93 lead with 1:27 remaining on a pair of free throws by Martell Webster.
But the next four possessions started with Jordan Crawford (23 points, six turnovers), who had made 9 of 10 shots in regulation, and ended in disaster.
First, Crawford's low dribble turned into an easy Gerald Wallace steal and two free throws. In between two off-balance jump shots, Crawford then also missed a pair at the line. All of a sudden, an 11-0 run had Brooklyn up 104-101. Finally, Bradley Beal (career-high 24 points) got the ball instead of Crawford and drained a buzzer-beating three to force a second extra session.
"Bradley kept us alive when we should've been dead," Wittman said. "And we should never of been dead to begin with."
Not after Beal and Nene (20 points) combined to hit eight of their first 10 shots as the Wizards went 61.9 percent from the field in the first quarter, which ended with a 30-20 lead. Not after leading by 14 points early in the second and 10 just before half when Crawford converted a circus bank shot over his head as he was wrapped up by Johnson on the fast break. Not after Garrett Temple had career-best 11 assists.
But led by Brook Lopez (27 points, 13 rebounds) and Deron Williams (24 points, 10 assists), the Nets never went away. Andray Blatche (13 points, 12 rebounds) handled the ruthless chorus of boos that greeted his every move in his first return to Washington with the Nets after seven seasons with the Wizards. He carried Brooklyn's second unit, which helped cut Washington's lead, which was still nine points midway through the third quarter, down to one by the start of the fourth.
"One, it went into double overtime, and two, that we had the start that we had in the first overtime, we felt the game was already over," Beal said. "We felt as though we had them on their heels, but we let them back in too easy."
Beal's soaring two-handed slam tied the game at 86 after the Nets had taken a lead for the first time. Crawford's daring 3-pointer put the Wizards back on top, 89-88, with 5:01 left, but they'd hit only two more field goals before the end of the regulation.
The first was another crazy, looping shot from Crawford; the second was Nene's running hook shot that sent the game into overtime, where the Wizards dropped to 0-5 for the season.
"How many times have we been here?" Wittman said. "I've lost count. We have to keep striving to find the magic to close the game out."