To say the Butler did it, is both cliché and accurate.
Caron Butler carried the Washington Wizards down the stretch and killed the little playoff momentum the Indiana Pacers had mounting. Butler hit an 18-foot jumper in the face of Danny Granger's defense, as the final buzzer blared, giving the Wizards a 119-117 win.
Wow, that one hurt. It's a familiar pain, but with the rash of losses among the teams mucking around in the Eastern Conference for the 8th playoff spot, this one keeps the Pacers near the bottom of the pile. So with a win within the Pacers grasp, the way the loss unfolded makes it sting that much more.
The Pacers had given up a season-high 34 points to Antawn Jamison through only three quarters. Jamison didn't score in the fourth quarter, but then again, he didn't need to. His running mate, Butler, pumped in 15 fourth quarter points including 12 in the final 2:01 on the Wizards final five possessions.
One stop in those final five possessions likely would've earned the Pacers a win. But they couldn't find a way to prevent one guy from scoring. Can't really complain about the game-winner, because Granger was finally guarding him and made it a difficult shot.
I have a few questions along with the usual observations:
- Mike Dunleavy left the game early in the first quarter and was unable to return when his sore knee flared up. No additional info yet on the extent of the pain and whether or not it is a long-term concern.
- Brandon Rush was pushed into additional minutes with Dunleavy out and Marquis Daniels missing the game with his back issues. Rush played pretty well, chipping in 11 points, making a couple of threes.
- Roy Hibbert on the other hand only played 3:54 in the first half and didn't return. Within two minutes, Hibbert had four points and two fouls. One foul looked like a pretty good block, but I think Hibbert's reputation precedes him these days. Why didn't Roy return to the game? I don't want to hear about the best chance to win. The Pacers could not stop the Wiz. Maybe Roy's presence changes things on defense a little. If he fouls out, so be it.
- Danny Granger finished with 29 seconds and came through again in the clutch, knocking down a 3-ball with 15 seconds left to tie the game at 117. Good to see the knee hold up for another game.
- Over the past two nights, the Nets, Bucks, Bulls, Knicks, Bobcats and Raptors all lost. After beating the Magic on Friday, the Pacers had a great chance to jump up another notch in the standings. Instead they just held serve with the rest of the mess in the East.
- So here we are, back in the valley of depression staring at LeBron James and the Cavs visiting the Fieldhouse on Tuesday. The Pacers lost to the Wizards tonight, but since they've beaten the Lakers, Celtics and Magic so far this season, the Cavs better look out.